On behalf of our entire PICU team, I would like to extend our welcome as you spend your 4 weeks with us during your journey of learning pediatric critical care. The medical student’s first encounter with the Pediatric intensive care unit (ICU) can be overwhelming. The life-support systems, monitors, data management tools, patient care providers, potent drugs, and complex ethical issues stirred by round-the-clock admissions and discharges easily obscure the most important element of the PICU: the patient. To the novice, the busy unit seems hectic, the humming unit seems noisy, and the caring unit seems chaotic. The professionals seem to be in constant motion around the patient, often appearing to care more for data than for the patient. Small wonder, that many medical students (and even some physicians!) find the ICU a confusing, intimidating, and challenging place. The reality is that the PICU is a place where skilled professionals of diverse backgrounds and skills provide highly structured, and often highly technological, care to the sickest children in the hospital. Their efforts are rewarding: more than 95% of children admitted to PICU are discharged alive.
While you spend time with us, I would like to remind you of one take-home message and advice: You are not alone! Get to know the people who are there to help you learn, and take advantage of their expertise. Ask them about your specific role and responsibilities. Identify your immediate supervisor and ask for the supervision to which you are entitled. There is no such thing as a “stupid question” in the PICU, and just about everyone you meet will be eager to share his or her knowledge with you. Asking focused, pertinent questions is an important part of being a team member.
Please explore our website and the rotation document which gives you an idea about your role and responsibility as a part of our PICU team and the opportunities available for observing and learning pediatric critical care. We want to share our excitement with you during this, your encounter with the PICU in the hope that you will gain confidence in critical care environment and your experience here will be extremely valuable to you as a future physician.
Feel free to contact me if there are any questions you may have related to your PICU rotation.
Vinai Modem, MD
Associate Professor & Director of Fellowship
Pediatric Critical Care Medicine
McGovern Medical School