Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Art of Breathing

Monday's seminar was about breathing control, and it was ok. Our seminar yesterday was a review of acid-base physiology by the same anesthesiologist who taught us acid-base last year. This guy is really cool, and his seminars are always good. I also had clinic yesterday afternoon, but nothing exciting happened this week. (Not that this is a bad thing!)

Today we had a communications class, which wound up being pretty funny. It was about establishing boundaries with patients. I went first in my group, and my standardized patient was asking me questions about another patient. Of course, I didn't know this person he was asking about, and I didn't realize that I was supposed to pretend to know the other patient but refuse to give out any info about him. So every time the patient asked me about the other guy, I kept responding that I didn't know the patient he was asking about. At the end, the preceptors told me that I was supposed to know the other patient. Oops. It didn't say anything about that in the write-up of the patient scenario that we read before seeing our "patients." Hopefully I didn't frustrate the standardized patient too much. :-P

Our communication session ran over time, which made my group late for our clinical correlation to learn about mechanical ventilators. This was kind of interesting, but I think it could have taken about half the time it took. They had us go to a few stations where we learned about the different modes of using ventilators to assist patient respiration. We also saw some patients on ventilators. I'm not sure I still really understand all of the breathing modes based on the wave forms (there are dozens, maybe hundreds of them in all), but the engineers in my group were sure loving this stuff. At one station, they had us try breathing using two of the different respirator modes (pressure versus volume) ourselves. It was surprisingly uncomfortable, as well as difficult, to time my own respirations with the machine's. Now I understand why patients on ventilators often have to be sedated.

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