Now You See Us

June 25, 2020

The following piece was written by Dr. Joe Debrah, a resident in our Mid-Hudson Family Medicine Residency. It first appeared in the New York State Academy of Family Physicians’ Weekly eNews on June 11.

Now You See Us
Joe Debrah, MD / Mid-Hudson Family Medicine Residency / Kingston, NY


Each morning we set out long before daylight. We smile at our children and gently kiss our spouses as we quietly sneak out of the house, lest we wake them. Without knowledge of how our family is doing throughout the day, our minds promptly shift to our patients, colleagues and the supervising members of the care team. What can we do to make a patient or family smile today? To get a nod of approval from our attending? Ensure that we are learning from our experience?

We walk swiftly through the hospital halls knowing that our patient’s health and bed-flow depend on the accuracy and timeliness of our decisions. Our attendings review our work, ensuring that management decisions are meticulous. We work together to discharge our patients in a timely fashion but make no mistake, we are very much present for all of our patients; that’s what residents do. We are with the critically ill patients whose hope of seeing loved ones again depends on urgent dialysis, the correct ventilator settings or a stat ICU consult. You grab the phone to clarify the orders with pharmacy, but then your cell phone chimes. Before you can unlock the screen, the pager beeps and your heart jumps: ‘Case management needs stat discharge orders for group home patient.’ Thus you pull up to the computer to do a final review of the patient’s hospital course. Orders are set but you have admissions pending so you try to review the outpatient records. Ah! The text message. You unlock your phone and realize it was a text from your partner: “Good morning! Don’t forget to eat breakfast.” But its 2PM you say, third cup of coffee in hand. Maybe you’ll grab a muffin from the lounge en route to the Emergency Department for new admissions. This is us.

So in the midst of this pandemic, if you see us working without complaining or fearing for our lives and wonder why we do it, realize that it’s nothing new for us nor for our families. Our lives are always on the line, because we care for our patients until we are the patients ourselves. Welcome to the front-row of a resident’s life: Do You See Us? To us, medicine is not just a
profession; it is one of our earliest loves, our passion, our life’s calling. Most importantly, it is our duty to humanity.

Thus, we will continue to rise at dawn and return home into the night: We will find ways to keep our families safe through and beyond this pandemic. And when our neighbors call to ask if we’re okay because our car is home much earlier than usual, we will smile and give thanks for a few fleeting hours to spend with our loved ones.

So thank you for checking on us. We realize – Now You See Us.

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