For my CLE interview, I interviewed Dr. Davison, an emergency room physician at Eagle Ridge Hospital.
I was always interested in science and helping people, which led me to explore the field of medicine through the eyes of someone who is already an expert in the field. Before Dr. Davison started working at Eagle Ridge, He worked at Royal Columbian Hospital for over twenty years, which was the receiving center for thirteen hospitals in Fraser health. It is the primary receiving site for trauma by helicopter or by ambulance, interventional cardiology (heart attacks), potential strokes, pediatrics, substance abuse, and pregnant patients. He is also an associate professor at UBC’s medical school in the ER division and the president of the medical school board exam.
I first asked him about what a typical shift in the emergency room looks like. Dr. Davison described, “Emergency medicine is sort of like Christmas, you never know what you are gonna get. Some days I’m a social worker, someday I’m a trauma doctor, some days it’s all cardiology, some days it’s all strokes… Everything and anything will come in the door every day. We have days where it’s nothing but strokes and elderly people. We’ll have days where it is all pediatrics. We’ll have days where society is misbehaving on New Year’s Eve and it’s all trauma, drugs, and alcohol, so it can be a little bit of everything every day.” This gave me a general idea of what working at the emergency room was like.
Next, I asked him about his journey towards becoming an ER physician and how he prepared to handle daily situations and the difficulties he faces in the emergency room. Dr. Davison had completed an undergraduate degree in mathematics at UBC and decided to go into medicine. Although he was not able to get into a medical school with a degree in mathematics, he studied anatomy at Mcgill university afterwards and got into med school. After finishing med school, Dr. Davison went through five years of residency with an additional three years of aeromedical transport and aviation medicine. He learned a lot about everything such as cardiology, trauma, neurology, pediatrics and obstetrics. He claimed that training was very broad and comprehensive to be able to tackle any situation you are put into. Some interesting insights I gained was that along the way, he went to New York City to learn about poison and toxicology. He also went to see many people get shot in the States and South Africa. This allowed me to understand how much time you need to invest in order to finally become an ER physician and how much dedication you require.
Moreover, I asked Dr. Davison about the effects of COVID-19 in his workplace. Dr. Davison was working when both SARS and Ebola came. Despite not getting affected by Ebola, he got trained and learned how to get dressed and undressed for Ebola. He said that “COVID-19 is the first epidemic that [he has] really lived through”. Because COVID-19 is an invisible assailant, he did not know what to expect and it was a confusing time for everyone. The volumes of people visiting dropped and people were terrified of coming to the hospital. There were only sick people and critically ill people including patients with COVID-19. He also added that you have to treat everyone as if they have covid-19. If a patient fell off a bike, injured their head and needs a ventilator, the regular protocols require you to take the patient to the trauma room, put to sleep, paralyze and then put them on a ventilator. Now, assuming that everyone has COVID-19, you are risking contaminating everyone by generating aerosols for the ventilator, he needs to wear two gowns and two gloves with gloves duct-taped to the gown. He needs to wear a full-on respirator, shield mask, hair net and medical booties.
Nevertheless, many human interactions changed due to COVID-19. No matter how close you are with the patient, family and friends cannot visit and doctors cannot spend too much time in the same room. The massively important human aspect of medicine was gone. Despite not having any pre-existing relationship with anybody as an emergency physician, Dr. Davison worked hard to spend the extra time to make people feel like there is still a connection.
There are a lot of other questions that he answered for me such as dealing with losing patients, how emergency medicine has a high level of burnout, different situations he had to deal with, and the challenges of dealing with mental illnesses in the emergency room. I have learned that being an ER physician requires you to withstand both mentally and physically draining practices, staying logical and professional at all times. It may not exactly fit what I would desire in my future job/working environment, but I now gained some wisdom in the field of emergency medicine that can be applied in other careers. This was an eye-opening opportunity with valuable information for my future ambitions! Thank you for reading 🙂