Almost two months into residency, I’m starting to get used to and learning to roll with this rhythm of life, of working days and nights on end, of getting too comfortable in the hospital call rooms, of squeezing eating into 5 minute intervals. Here I would like to share a few tiny glimpses into the real life of a MD in training.
#1 skill needed for residents- to be able to fine tune the biologic clock of your body so that you can sleep whenever and wherever you can and have time to. Since my call schedule involves working day shifts then followed by 16 hour nights (7:30pm-11:30am) then going back to day shift the next day, I had to tweak my circadian rhythm to sleep from 3-5pm on pre-call nights, then after I get home from work at noon the following day, sleep from 1-5pm, and still be able to sleep that night normally so I can wake up the next day refreshed and ready for the day routine. The goal is to get back to your regular sleep schedule as fast as possible so that your body doesn’t even notice that you broke the routine. Well, I lie. My body does notice, eventually, and that often entails crashing towards the end of a work week, living in a state of mild delirium then sleeping like a dead body on my off day.
Second fact I had to come to terms with is that I will always be short on time, and no work will quite end on time. My work can pretty much be summed up as warfare. It’s a constant battle in the hospital to finish seeing my patients before rounds, to finish rounds on time, which they never do, to have enough time to put in all the orders into the computer system and to have time to pause in between and actually think about what in the world is going on with my patients. Being a MD in training is not like the rosy picture you probably imagine of a wise doctor in a white coat and a silk tie, crossing his legs laying back in the leather armchair while pondering over the pathophysiology of the disease. Maybe if I grow nine extra arms, I might be able to free up one to do that. The other reality with my work schedule is that I can never expect to clock out when the hour is up and peace out of the hospital. There has been days when my shift was supposed to end by 8pm, but when a new patient shows up at 7pm, there’s no way I’ll be able to get out before 9pm. Or in afternoon clinic, when my patient is late by 50 minutes but I still see them because they took 2 buses to get here and they might not come again for a long time, my schedule would get pushed back and I get out an hour and a half after my scheduled end time.
Because time is like gold to me, I have also learned to chow down food in five minute intervals and peck on snacks like a bird instead of having a real meal. The last time I carried a pager for my whole team and tried to go downstairs to the cafeteria to grab a quick bite, I was paged back up to the floor for a patient who started having difficulty breathing. By the time we tucked that patient in upstairs after 1 hour, my sandwich order was long gone and forgotten. For this reason, all the team rooms where we work are stocked to the brim with bananas, granola bars, pastries, donuts, crackers for residents to graze on. Of course, I have to watch what I eat or else my diet can consist purely of donuts and Pepperidge Farm cookies. That is where intern fifteen comes from. For me, I’ve made a priority out of going grocery shopping every week and cooking real meals at least once or twice a week, partly for health reasons, partly for my own sanity and this blog. So starting next post, you’ll get to see new recipes I’ve tried so far while living in LA!
Today will be the last recipe I’ve made while in Houston: saucy creole shrimp. It’s a shout out to my New Orleans roots (lived there in 7th grade) and Southern cuisine in general. It’s definitely a leisure Sunday afternoon kind of recipe, soothing to the palate and the soul, and not to mention that it’s a one pot meal that contains seafood, veggies and carbs!
Saucy Creole Shrimp
- 4 slices of turkey bacon, chopped into bits
- 1/3 cup of flour
- 3 Tbsp canola oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 can stewed tomato
- 1 Tbsp creole seasoning
- 1 Tbsp paprika
- 1 bottle of dark beer
- 1.5 lbs of raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 tbsp cajun seasoning
- 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- steamed white rice
In a skillet, heat up canola oil and sear the tuket bacon bits over medium heat until browned, for 3-5 minutes. Set the bacon aside.
In the same skillet, add 3 Tbsp canola oil and flour, stir to combine. Cool for 10 minutes until mixture is golden. Add onion, garlic, celery and bell pepper to the roux, and cook for 5 minutes until bell pepper have soften and onion is translucent. Add 1 can of stewed tomatoes and creole seasoning and paprika. Cook for another 5 minutes. Add the beer and turkey bacon and simmer on low-medium heat for 10-15 minutes until flavors have combined well.
Meanwhile in a separate skillet, sear the shrimp with butter on medium heat until cooked through, for 3 minutes on each side. Add cajun seasoning to shrimp and toss to coat.
Add shrimp and Worcestershire sauce to the first skillet and stir to mix. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve with rice on the side and enjoy!