A Traumatic Conversation

Actual snippet of conversation with a nursing student in the college parking lot:

Khawaja: So have you decided on a specialization in nursing?

Student: Oh, anesthesiology, definitely. Starting salary is $160K. Cannot wait to make that much.

Khawaja: So you’re in it for the money?

Student (earnestly): No! No! I mean, right now my residency is in Trauma. Would I go into Trauma if I was just after money? I go into it because I love it. I love Trauma. Like, half the time I’m covered in blood. It’s awesome.

Khawaja: You like being covered in blood?

Student (puzzled): Well, yeah. Except maternal blood, like during a C-Section. Eww.

She’s a former student of mine. Ethics.

6 thoughts on “A Traumatic Conversation

  1. Makes sense (potentially, anyway). You want to do medicine because it will help people. What among your many options should you specialize in? One that will make you a lot of money? Sure. But then there are other attractions, like the thrill of being covered in blood and helping to deal with serious trauma. Excitement, challenge, intrinsic reward, and cash!

    I had a student who came in as pre-med with a whole career plan mapped out (his parents were both physicians, so I think he had some help). He wants to be a dermatologist. Why? Because dermatologists make pretty good money, sure, but also because they don’t have to be on call at all hours and because dermatology has one of the highest success rates of any field (so he says, anyway), and hence practicing dermatology involves helping people a whole lot, who are then happier and grateful to you, which will make you happier and wealthier.

    Not just in it for the money, I guess. So perhaps not entirely ignoble.

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    • It’s “the thrill of being covered in blood” that I’m balking at here. I think the explanation for the “eww” reaction to maternal blood was that the student identified with bleeding moms, being a potential bleeding mom herself. But non-mom bloodletting? Awesome! Bring it on! Bloodbath!

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      • I admit I have no idea why the C-section blood is supposed to be gross but blood from other sources isn’t. Otherwise I think the thrill of being covered in blood makes sense, at least provided that it’s not literally just a thrill that she could get from someone coming over to her apartment and dumping some blood on her, but is connected to the whole context of working in trauma. It’s not for me, that’s for sure, but I think I get it.

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