A Day in the Life of a CA-1 at the VA
Though just a five minute commute from Ben Taub, the VA is the only hospital in our system located outside the hustle and bustle of the Texas Medical Center and is easily accessible.
My morning starts when I arrive on the floor a little before 6 a.m. to pull my medications from the automated Pyxis and dilute my pressors and hypotensive agents. I then check my machine and set up my room by 6:30 a.m. At 6:30 a.m. we all gather in the resident lounge for coffee and our morning lecture from one of our attendings. At 7 a.m. we break and head to the pre-op holding bay where our patients are waiting. Most the patients at the VA have significant co-morbidities and you will find yourself placing at least one large-bore IV and an arterial line on most mornings. By the time you finish your lines your attending will come to the bed side for final interview of the patient and to make any changes to the anesthetic plan that may be necessary.
Then it is off to the OR by 7:30 a.m., sharp! Once all the monitors are placed, the patient is intubated, and the surgery is safely underway the attending will excuse me for my morning break. I find this a good time to grab some quick calories, sit, and reflect on my morning or laugh with a colleague.
My day from that point varies with the type and number of cases I am given. Though the general OR support system in place isn’t as robust as at other hospitals I find there is more in which I feel in control of. From this responsibility comes a more total sense of patient ownership and reward that I don’t find elsewhere. The other great thing about the VA are the attendings. Though they, themselves, have much to do I find them supportive and big on teaching. Most days come to an end around 5 p.m., though it is not uncommon to stay until 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. before the attending running the board excuses me for the day. Yes, there is more work to do at the VA and days are a bit longer than at Ben Taub, but as a CA-1 in the first half of the year I have every weekend off and no night call. Just what I need to relax and gear up for the next week!
– Eli Munoz, M.D.