Saturday, July 4, 2009

Survival tips for new interns: eating

Since we're in the month of July, I thought I'd share some "survival tips for new interns." If you're a medical student and you're starting your 3rd year clinical clerkships, these same tips may help you survive on the wards. Since the number seven is symbolic of completion, I'll provide 7 tips:
  1. Eat whenever you can and always carry snack bars. Sometimes, you're running around like crazy. Your cafeteria might close and you'll miss dinner. It's essential that you eat whenever you can and always carry survival food. Ration that food since you won't know when you'll get to restock your supplies.
  2. Keep food in your bag/locker at all times. See above.
  3. This is not a good time to go on a diet. See above. You may be prone to some serious rebound eating phenomenons.
  4. Keep some new, clean zip lock bags in your white coat pocket. You'll never know when you'll be around free food that you can't eat (but you might be able to stuff a cookie into that bag and run along).
  5. If you're about to die of hunger, offer to buy some snacks for everyone instead of asking, "can I go and eat while the rest of you continue to work?"
  6. If you carry food in your pockets, avoid things that can melt, get crushed, or leak. I love chocolate, but it can melt and be messy to eat. Chips are great if you like salty crumbs. I love ice cream bars, but not after they've been in my pockets for 2 hrs.
  7. If you get really desperate (last resort), you can always play the "I think I gave myself too much insulin and I'm starting to feel hypoglycemic" card. Remember, you don't have to disclose anything about your personal health conditions.
Remember the "Symptoms of Inadequate Food Consumption" (according to - feel free to quote that website):
  • Irritability
  • Low moral
  • Lethargy
  • Physical Weakness
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Poor judgment
  • Weakened immune system
  • Inability to maintain body temperature which can lead to hypothermia, heat exhaustion, or even heat stroke.
So, you don't want to blame any of these things listed above to "inadequate food consumption," right? You definitely don't want to exhibit "poor judgment" because of an empty stomach.

My next series of survival tips will be on bathroom use. Here's a preview: always empty your bladder before you perform a paracentesis on a patient with cirrhosis and massive ascites.

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