OK- (Tamam in Turkish) Michael here. I realize that we have not updated the blog in 8 weeks or so (technically it is Linda's job to update the blog but she has been busy.) but I finally got something put together to post. A while ago some of you (friends from residency and others) asked about my job. What is my job like? How is being a military doc different from a civilian doc? Having never been a civilian doc I am not entirely sure but there are few things I am pretty sure of. (this probably doesn't apply to all Military docs but just to those of us "fortunate" enough to be in a forward location (that means close to the fighting to you civilians. And while we are not very close to the war we count as a forward location).
Some of the differences include:
1) we have men armed with machine guns at the doors of the clinic.
2) You cannot enter the building if you don't have proper clearance.
3) I am authorized to carry a sidearm (9mm pistol) during patient care (I don't but maybe someday).
4) when I have a critical case it gets airlifted out of the country.
5) I wear camouflage and combat boots to work.
6) I am usually addressed by the parents of my patients (and often by the patients themselves) as "Sir".
7) If a parent "No Shows" on an appointment I can call his Commander and have him punished (have not had to do this yet. I have very few "No Shows" as you might imagine).
8) There is a bomb shelter in the basement capable of withstanding a nearby nuclear blast.
9) When we have mock codes the "patient" has frequently been the victim of chemical, biological, radioactive/nuclear, or explosive attacks (CBRNE is the acronym for this). Making sure the scene is safe takes on a whole new meaning when your patient is covered with nerve agent.
10) I have a chemical protection suit in my office just in case of a chemical attack.
11) Our afternoon conferences frequently involve topics like "Using the Pralidoxime-2 (PAM-2)injector to counter nerve agents." or " The importance of screening returning soldiers for occult closed head injuries." or "Dangers on the flight line." (that's runway to you civilians). Being the solo pediatrician most of the lectures are (unfortunately) for the Family Practitioners and their adult patients.
12) I'm on call each Wednesday and the first weekend of the month.
13) The vaccinations we give include Typhus and Small-pox (only for those soldiers going downrange (into the war zone for you civilians)).
14) My contract requires I go running three times a week to be able to pass a physical fitness test which includes running 1.5 miles. (that may not be much to you runners but it was a long way to me).
15) must wear a dog tag at all times while at work
Anyway... Those are some of the differences. Otherwise my job is not that different from yours (speaking to my pediatric associates). I see the kids, diagnose their problem, reassure the parents, chart, refer, etc.
This week has been different though. Spent Monday and Tuesday teaching ACLS. My students included 2 Turkish physicians- one is a General Surgeon and the other a family practitioner. (we have a bit of a personnel shortage here- not everyone is willing to come to Turkey so we use some local providers) and then on Wednesday we had an "exercise". It was a pretend disaster drill complete with- you guessed it- a simulated chemical weapon attack. And with a simulated chemical attack comes the joy of wearing the flaming hot chemical protection suit with helmet and gasmask. (I do realize that anyone involved in actual combat in the big sandbox especially in the summer who wore their chem suit in that environment are laughing at me- "he's complaining about wearing his suit in an air conditioned building. I wore it in the sun in 120 degree heat!!) It was not just the heat and breathing difficulty but trying to treat our simulated patients through our gasmasks while wearing our big clumsy rubber gloves. It was an absolute lesson in futility. But now that is done and I wont have to do it again for another month.
Well it is late and I'm gonna go to bed. Eat some Mexican food for me because I cant get any here.
I've included some pictures by popular request.