Confidential in Bellevue

I'm swimming in stories and outlandish speech, but I can't repeat any of it. Interviewing patients is a short-story writer's dream, with the layers of lives coming at you faster than you can write them down. (Said an attending to me today as I was doing one of my first interviews with a psychiatric patient: "Don't write so much down. You don't have to be Sigmund Freud starting out. Just try to talk to them as people.") But these are patients, and so their details must be kept confidential. Even if I disguised their names, it wouldn't be enough.

The most I can render, therefore, are general impressions of where I am and what I'm doing. I hope to have some time to do that over the next few days. On the 11th, I will be on-call (the whole night long) at Bellevue's psychiatric emergency room; I assume that something I see or learn there will be worth writing about.

If you'd like to know anything in particular about what medical training is like, please ask away. It will help me sharpen my eye and ear.

Postscript: My dad asks if "talking to [the patients] as people" is really enough; aren't I supposed to be trained in specific medical knowledge? Sure, but sometimes an over-eager medical student can narrow things down too quickly, when what's needed is a more open-ended inventory of the patient's state. This is particularly true in psychiatry, I think, where the pathologies are open-ended structural flaws rather than acute medical problems.

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