Guest post: 25 things my wife won’t miss about her intern year

My wife wrote this on her facebook page. I loved it.

Awhile back, the “25 Things About Me” meme was pretty popular on Facebook. I’ll admit, I did it- it’s fun to broadcast all these bits and pieces of myself into cyberspace. But it was pretty self-serving. Do any of you really care about my first job, first car, or my most embarrassing moments?

But now there’s something about me that I really do feel like sharing. I’m sounding my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

That’s right, folks. I am no longer an intern.

(Well, technically I am. I still have to go in early tomorrow for bullshit cross cover on 10C. But my months of doing random intern rotations are over the moment I walk out the building tomorrow. I’m spending the last month in radiology; and as far as I’m concerned, it’s a brave new world down there.)

I was an intern on internal medicine, general surgery, the ED, trauma surgery, the PICU, peds urgent care, pathology, and a few other random things like ortho and rheum. I think it’s fair to say I’ve been on almost every service in the hospital. I’ve taken care of neonates in the NICU, and I’ve done autopsies. Seen far too many people die this year, but just one being born (well, I was doing the birthing). Some months were much more emotionally and physically difficult than others. And honestly, there were a lot of fun times. I got lucky and had a pretty nice year overall and met some very cool people. But it still sucked the big one most of the time.

So, fellow interns, soon-to-be interns, people who were interns once, and the curious other few who might peruse this, I give you…

25 Things I Won’t Miss About Intern Year

1. The Goldenrod Form: An ugly yellow piece of paper you have to fill out when patients go to a nursing home. It’s so ugly it hurts my eyes; it’s like pee that sat in a bedpan too long and had half its free water content evaporate off. The space to write meds is horribly small. I’m sure some nurse somewhere couldn’t read my crappy handwriting and gave a patient 400 mg of Lasix qD.

2. Waking up at 4:30 (or earlier, on gen surg) every morning. Falling asleep at 9:30 pm. Falling asleep in the middle of a conversation. Feeling like people in Target/at preschool/my neighbors must think I’m drunk or stoned because my eyes are bloodshot and I can barely get a sentence out.

3. Environmental services staff who buff floors and vacuum rugs right next to us during rounds. You guys do a great job, really, but do you have to literally vacuum under the chair I’m sitting in when I’m post-call and fumbling my way through a presentation?

4. The Trauma Bomb: 6776. I will remember that number forever.

5. Tele alarms. I hear you in my sleep.

6. Watching five fat, breathless hospital cops try to wrestle my demented 78 year-old crackhead patient back from the elevators. Didn’t work. Actually, I might miss this, cause it was so damn funny to watch.

7. Bouncebacks.

8. Short calls.

9. Swallowers.

10. Drunk members of a certain family (well-known to 10C) who threaten me. You know who you are. Next time I’m calling security. I mean it.

11. Kids kept alive, born at 23 weeks, now trached and PEGed and living in an LTAC in between PICU admissions. Sucks.

12. Smelly trachs. It must suck to have a trach, and I don’t mean to make fun of anyone who has one, but sometimes the smell they emit makes me gag. And the stuff that gets sucked out? Forget it. I just threw up.

13. Patients who insist on repeatedly calling me honey, sweetie, lady, or nurse, even after I remind them I’m their doctor. It’s not hard. I call you Mr. Smith. You call me Dr. Wilson. Get it? Apparently not.

14. The ED. I’m sorry, Deb and John, it’s just not for me. No part of it. But please come see me often in the rads reading room. I’ll be the one in the rocker, eating popcorn in the dark with my ipod on.

15. The smell of horrific gingivitis and that weird yellow gunk that accumulates around the teeth of those who don’t floss.

16. Patients who want me to check out “this spider bite on my ass/nuts/labia.”

17. Tripping and dropping 3 pagers down a stairwell, all of which are going off (true story, happened on rainbow surg call one night)

18. Diabetic nails, gnarly toes, scaly skin. Get thee to a podiatrist.

19. The plastic pillows in the call rooms. Covered with microbes due to years of resident sweat and drool accumulating on them.

20. Digital rectal exams. I feel dirty just seeing a package of Surgilube. I apologize to anyone whose behind I violated. I tried to be gentle, really.

21. The Metrohealth Cafe’s weird obsession with fish. Face it, you can’t do a damn thing to make your cod, scrod, tilapia or salmon palatable to me.

22. The smell of poop that permeates 5A/5C SICU. It’s killer.

23. My stethoscope. Like a noose around my neck. Only I don’t wear it around my neck, I keep it in my pocket. Cause I’m cool like that.

24. Calling bullshit consults cause someone else made me do it. Usually to Ortho or Neurosurg. The call is inevitably returned by some snarling dude who talks to me like I’m an idiot.

And finally…

25. Those two dudes who seem to be preying on the unlucky Clevelanders just mindin’ their own business, sittin’ on the porch, or walkin’ home from church. At 3 am.

Actually, I’d like to thank those two dudes. You bring my hospital a lot of business. (Not that we’re getting paid for it, but whatever).

Some notes on nosetests and coverage

I use Nose to run my automated tests. It can report on code coverage like this:

$ nosetests --quiet --with-coverage --cover-package pitz
Name Stmts Exec Cover Missing
pitz 29 29 100%
pitz.bag 108 107 99% 150
pitz.cmdline 50 12 24% 23-54, 62-79, 92-93, 96, 109-114, 119-130
pitz.entity 105 105 100%
pitz.exceptions 1 1 100%
pitz.junkyard 0 0 100%
pitz.junkyard.ditzloader 22 15 68% 31-37, 45-47
pitz.pitzfiles 0 0 100%
pitz.project 52 52 100%
pitz.projecttypes 0 0 100%
pitz.projecttypes.agilepitz 55 54 98% 66
pitz.projecttypes.simplepitz 66 61 92% 84-90
TOTAL 488 436 89%
Ran 69 tests in 6.350s


Most of the uncovered code is in the cmdline module, which does a lot of work with the filesystem and starting up IPython, and I’m having trouble writing tests there. You could help, you know 🙂.

I’m keenly aware that running with coverage makes tests much slower. Normally, my pitz tests run in about half a second:

$ nosetests --quiet
Ran 69 tests in 0.504s


Fortunately, I don”t have to rerun all your tests to see what lines are uncovered. I can query the .coverage file created by nose afterward to get details. It is really easy to get coverage for just one module:

$ coverage -r -m pitz/
Name Stmts Exec Cover Missing
pitz/cmdline 50 12 24% 23-54, 62-79, 92-93, 96, 109-114, 119-130

And getting coverage on multiple modules is straightforward, but kind of tedious:

$ coverage -r -m pitz/ pitz/ pitz/
Name Stmts Exec Cover Missing
pitz/__init__ 29 29 100%
pitz/cmdline 50 12 24% 23-54, 62-79, 92-93, 96, 109-114, 119-130
pitz/entity 105 105 100%
TOTAL 184 146 79%

I don’t know of an elegant solution to do what nosetests does, where it shows me all coverage for a package. Running coverage -r without any module lists dumps out everything, which is never what I want:

$ coverage -r
Name Stmts Exec Cover
/home/matt/checkouts/myfiles/bin/__init__ 0 0 100%
/home/matt/virtualenvs/pitz/lib/python2.6/site-packages/Jinja2-2.1.1-py2.6-linux-i686.egg/jinja2/__init__ 12 11 91%
/home/matt/virtualenvs/pitz/lib/python2.6/site-packages/Jinja2-2.1.1-py2.6-linux-i686.egg/jinja2/bccache 111 36 32%
Traceback (most recent call last):

A while back on twitter I posted that I wanted my editor to read my .coverage file and highlight the lines that aren’t covered. I don’t know anything about how to control syntax highlighting, but I run this little deal from within vim to get the same facts:

:! coverage -r -m %

My edit buffer disappears and I see this instead:

Name Stmts Exec Cover Missing
cmdline 50 12 24% 23-54, 62-79, 92-93, 96, 109-114, 119-130

Press ENTER or type command to continue

In vim, :! is how you run a command in a shell. Incidentally, it is also possible to pull the results from the command into vim and write data from vim to the command, but that’s not what I want right now.

Vim replaces the % symbol with the file I’m currently editing. Of course, this command only works when I start vim in the same directory as the .coverage file. If I ain’t in that directory, then I have to specify how to find the .coverage file by setting the environmental variable COVERAGE_FILE like this:

:! COVERAGE_FILE=../.coverage coverage -r -m %

Setting it that way means it doesn’t last beyond that one shell. If I want vim to remember the setting, I could set COVERAGE_FILE when I start vim like this:

$ COVERAGE_FILE=../.coverage vi

Or I could export it like this:

$ export COVERAGE_FILE=../.coverage
$ vi

In summary, coverage is a neat tool, but it is silly to think that 100% test coverage guarantees anything. Coverage won’t warn you when your calculator returns 3 for 1 + 1.