See One, Do One, Teach One

The title of this post refers to an adage in medicine referring to how you learn to perform certain medical tasks. Another one is “when you hear hoofbeats, think horses not zebras,” meaning that you should think of common diagnoses first rather than rarities as common things are quite frankly much more likely.

Although it is sort of fun to wonder if the patient actually has a pheochromocytoma….maybe one day I’ll see one….

Anyways, what follows is a brief retelling of some of “first times.” Don’t worry, no one has been hurt or injured or harmed! Or, at least people told me my needle sticks didn’t hurt….

FIRST BLOOD DRAW: My first blood draw was on a fellow med student (and his first blood draw on me…it you wanna poke, you best be prepared to get poked, it’s only fair). Young people tend to have good veins so I got the flash (flash back of blood, indicating you are in the vein) pretty easy. Now, the first time I tried on an older individual or a heavier individual…that was a different story.

FIRST BLOOD DRAW ON SOMEONE THAT WAS NOT MY FRIEND: I did get the vein on the first try (lucky for me, it was a skinny person), but the patient did faint on me. Literally on me. Wasn’t prepared for that.

FIRST IV: This was done on the same friend as my first blood draw (and ditto, he did his first IV on me). It was a 22 gauge IV (ie this is smaller than a “large bore” IV you would use in a truama situation; the smaller the needle, the less it should hurt!). I didn’t press down on his vein after removing the tourniquet so, when I removed the needle from the angiocather, it got a little messy (blood) but nothing too crazy…glad I had a chuck under his arm though! Its a good thing we were young and hardy med students…

FIRST INTUBATION: I did a 2 week anesthesia elective where I was lucky enough to get to intubate people. My first intubation was done with an attending basically “hand over hand” to make sure I could see the cords well and insert the tube correctly. Success!

FIRST BABY DELIVERY: My first delivery was done on the last day of my OB rotation…and was probably one of the most exciting days of med school (many people would agree on this even if they weren’t interested in going into OB/GYN). I remember wanting to make certain I put the boots on (big shoe covers basically). The attending also had her hands over my hands for this one, which was definitely reassuring to me as it can all happen kind of fast and it is a bit overwhelming when you are delivering a real live baby rather than just going through the 7 cardinal movements of labor on a model. I am pretty sure I told everyone from the bodega dude to my doorman that I delivered a baby that day.

FIRST 24 HOUR CALL: On our surgery and OB rotations we took 24 hour call. On surgery, our 24 hour shift was on the trauma service. Luckily, I did get to sleep for about 4 hours. Med school trains you to be able to sleep anywhere at anytime. Just ask my friends…

FIRST ABG: An ABG is an arterial blood gas, meaning we’re wanting to get arterial blood rather than the venous blood you normal get with a blood draw. An ABG tells you of the acid/base status of the patient and the procedure is a bit more involved than a simple venipuncture. I’ve been lucky enough to try an ABG once or twice. I have yet to have success.

FIRST CPR: Yep, still haven’t done this. Only done it on a mannequin. But, I have that 30:2 ratio down pat.

I’m sure there will be many more firsts to come….and seconds, thirds, fourths, and fifths!

As my PSA of the day, if you are a lady blogger, consider applying for one of Nuun’s Hood to Coast teams! Many of my good friends have done it and have had wonderful times. I’d be submitting my application in a heart beat if I didn’t have the whole residency bit. 🙂


I am the world’s biggest weirdo and LOVE the dentist…so much so that I wondered at one point if I should become a dentist.

Until next time…


13 thoughts on “See One, Do One, Teach One

  1. That’s awesome that you intubated someone, I still can’t believe I’m going to be doing that for my job in two and a half years!!! So exciting that you’re going to be doing OB/GYN for life!

    I actually prefer ABGs to venipunctures because you go by feel and just draw a straight line in your head and then go right in… On a lot of my STICU folks, their veins try to hide under all the edema and are sometimes more difficult to access.

    Loved this post, so fun chatting about this sort of thing!

  2. I’d do my own blood draws if they let me…although I hope I never become diabetic or get a DVT or something because I don’t want to give myself injections, ha.

    I’d always rather have a nurse draw my blood than a doctor…more practice! You can deliver the babies though, not my cup of tea.

  3. It’s so awesome that you’ve delivered a baby (and will deliver many more). My OB is my hero after delivering Landon two weeks ago!

    Answers to your questions:
    Scared of needles? No. IVs aren’t my favorite though.
    Blood draws? Not really… although when there are 7 tubes sitting on the table, I kind of feel like I might bleed to death.
    Doctor Appointments- I hate my annual PAP. HATE IT! Speculums are the devil.
    Worse- Dentist! I hate the sound of teeth being scraped.

    So excited to keep reading about your exciting adventures in OB/GYN!

  4. Delivering a baby sounds like the coolest thing ever. You just totally made me want to quit law school, do a post-bacc, and go to med school.

  5. I was “lucky” enough to have an ABG performed on me. The MOST PAINFUL THING EVER! I have a high pain tolerance, but that one made me wince, and I felt a tear till down my cheek.
    Also, just an FYI, I am currently in a L&D room waiting for my wife’s labor to fully kick in. Have walked about 1.5 hallway miles already… Any other suggestions?

  6. i used to be a study coordinator (for clinical trials) so i did blood draws all the time. taking a quick glance at someone’s veins and seeing a nice big one is the biggest relief of all time (and then the subsequent flash)!!!

    delivering a baby has to be pretty damn amazing!

  7. i hate having blood drawn and usually pass out. I have donated platelets (oddly enough) because of my involvement with TNT and a sorority sister who had leukemia. about dr’s-prefer dr-depending on what it’s for. I actually love my ob gyn and hate the dentist more than that.

  8. I am absolutely terrified of needles and going to the doctor. I’ve only had my blood drawn once and I cried. It’s really sad, haha.

    Love reading about all this though – so amazing! I need to start repeating the “horses not zebras” phrase to myself constantly, because whenever something hurts I always think it must be something really terrible. I’m the worst patient ever, haha.

  9. I’m not fond of having blood drawn or needles, but I don’t freak out either. It is what it is. I am not a big fan when they show you how much blood they took, but other than that I’m okay.

    I HATE THE DENTIST. My dentist growing up was this charming, handsome southern man; now my dentist is just mean!

  10. Fun read!
    I would be a doctor’s dream – blood, needles, all that jazz does not bother me in the least. And I LOVE getting my teeth cleaned so yes. I would choose the dentist over the gyno any day 😉

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