My First Night Shift as an Attending, Amidst the Crisis

By Rashmi Advani, Gastroenterology Fellow, New York

photo by Clay Banks via Unsplash

I am a Gastroenterology Fellow in New York. I completed my training in Internal Medicine, also in New York, and went straight into subspecialty training to be a Gastroenterologist. In the 9 months leading up to this day, I was a consultant and a proceduralist.

Soon I joined a strong body of clinicians who got redeployed to COVID units to help meet the growing demand. It truly felt like a war zone.

I was assigned to be an attending for COVID units. My first night started with 60 patients on my list who were divided amongst 4 residents from different specialties: Pediatrics, ENT, Radiology, Plastic Surgery. This shift was not one of those typical nights on medicine floors I remembered in residency.

Standing in my first patient’s hallway, I looked around and mentally prepared myself on how to find and throw on my protective gear, memorizing the order.

Through the night, I felt waves of overwhelming paranoia and asked myself what I would do if one of my patients deteriorated.

The night hurled forward with several scares, where I was convinced that this would be the end for some patients. But then, I bore witness to something remarkable, as many of these patients improved on the multiple drugs hanging above them in the dead of the night. My fears of the unknown had been melted away, as I stared the disease right in the face, ready to fight it once again. As I walked out of the hospital that morning, I remember hoping that when I went into work again that night, I would have another chance to help my patients live another day.

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