What it means to code in the hospital It is just another day and I am rounding on all of my patients before I meet up with my Attending doctor to discuss my patients and tell him what I think we should do for the patients. As I walk over to the nurses station, I see my Attending doctor and he rushes past me and says “come on, there is a patient coding in the ICU!”
I run after him and by the time we get to the patient who is coding, there are at least 5 nurses and 3 doctors already there. He smiles at me and tells me to get in line to do chest compressions. As I am waiting for my turn, I start getting nervous thinking that maybe I have forgotten how to do chest compressions. I peak over to see how the nurse in front of me is doing them and realize that I do remember how to do chest compressions. The nurse in front of me is looking tired so I jump in and start doing chest compressions. I forget about everyone and everything around me and focus on the one thing that I can do.
The Critical Care doctor starts putting a femoral catheter into the patient as I am doing compressions and I do not phase him for even a second. There is a nurse using a bag to ventilate the patient and she is completely focused on what she is doing. Everything around me feels like it is moving in slow motion and then I feel someone tap me on the shoulder and say that I can switch with her to take a break. As I step off of the step stool to switch with one of the nurses, a rush of adrenaline hits me. I watch the nurses take over and she looks completely cool doing compressions. All I can think about is I wonder how much of a mess I looked like while doing compressions.
One of the other medical students walks over and gives me a nudge and says I did great and looked really confident doing them. The nurse that I was watching gets done and tells me how nervous she is every time she does compressions even though she has been doing them for years. I guess we are all in good company huh? On the outside, we all look like we know what we are doing but no one knows how we feel internally. Whether it is doing chest compressions or taking the MCAT, internally we all are fighting a similar battle. Never forget that.