Newborn Welcoming Committee

Posted in GUMC Stories

Week 7, Third Year. Time to transition from a pediatric outpatient experience to Labor and Delivery (L&D). Of all the clerkships awaiting me during my third year of medical school, OB/GYN is probably the one I feel least prepared for, simply because obstetrics is not a major focus within the second year curriculum. The term “baptism by fire” will never be as appropriately attached to an experience as it is to my first evening on L&D.

The day began with a typical orientation to the clerkship and a visit to the Sim (Simulation) Center to practice delivering a Sim Baby and doing a bimanual exam on a Sim Uterus and Ovaries. We practiced tying knots and suturing, and then we were off to our separate sites for the afternoon orientation. I had been assigned to start my clerkship with a week of L&D night float, so I knew I was in for a long evening.

Upon my group’s arrival at Virginia Hospital Center, we were given more orientation paperwork and a primer on the electronic medical record system in place at the institution. We were also shown how to work the scrub machine. I aced the part where you collect your scrubs, and the next morning got an “F” in depositing them.

FYI: Separate the top from the bottom of your scrub set when depositing scrubs in the machine on the L&D floor at VHC. You’ll thank me later when you avoid an angry automated message that makes you feel like you should go put yourself in time out.

At this point in my day, my head was filled with approximately 50% of each important conversation and lecture I had been to since early that morning, and my bag was weighed down with all of the papers and books I had accumulated. I was mentally exhausted just trying to remember my way around the hospital, and found myself wishing I had pulled a Hansel-and-Gretel type move strewing decidedly non-sterile breadcrumbs in my wake along the way. We were about halfway through our tour of the unit when an attending [physician] crossed our path. “Welcome to L&D,” she said. “Who’s on call tonight?”

The other medical student on call and I looked at each other and introduced ourselves to the physician. She [the attending] asked one of us to meet her in Room 5 ASAP after changing into scrubs. She would return the student to the orientation group later. I was closer to her so I took off to change.

About three minutes later I cruised into the culmination of a long vaginal delivery. I pulled on the knee high surgical boots, a gown, gloves, and mask with the help of a patient nurse, and positioned myself next to the resident at the foot of the bed. About two minutes later, I’m pretty sure I happened to be the first person that new little person saw in the world. The attending and resident [physicians] were wonderful about explaining everything to me. This was no Sim Baby and Sim Mom, that’s for sure.

Earlier that day, I had asked an innocent question while being shown how to deliver a baby: “So after you suction the baby’s mouth and nose, where do you put the goop?” The doctor explaining the process had just laughed at me and replied, “Oh, you’ll see.” The answer, for all of you who haven’t been intimately involved in natural childbirth, is: it doesn’t matter. You are all blanketed in “goop.”

After the delivery was over and the room was well on its way to being nice and clean again, the resident asked me to go start writing the delivery note. I looked at her blankly. The attending overheard and laughed, saying, “Why don’t you let her finish getting oriented first.”

By Caroline Green (M’13), student at the Georgetown University School of Medicine
(Published February 13, 2012)