Off the Shelf, Poetry Thursdays
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The Catastrophic Search for the Operating Room

Wake up a 5:00 a.m.,
Cannot afford to be late.
It’s my first day of preclinical shadowing,
I want my first impression to be great.

I’ve read up extensively on the surgeries,
I have mastered all the anatomic basics.
The only thing I have no idea about,
is where the hell the proper room is.

I know where the hospital is,
I know just where to park.
I nervously walk up to the building,
and stand lost in the dark.

I check my phone for the fifth time,
“Building Four, Room 237.”
I ask the officer at the front desk,
“I’m sorry sir, but you’re now in building eleven.”

I thank him for the help,
though he really provided none.
I then walk back outside, pull out my phone,
Google’s map is useless, it’s from 1971.

I dash around the next building,
“Building Four,” no more distraught!
I approach the door and shake it vigorously,
but alas, a keycard I have not.

I wait just outside the door,
pretending to look occupied.
Hoping and praying a group comes by,
to sneak in with the team alongside.

A medical team finally comes,
distracted by the chaos of last night’s news.
They visually scan my ID card,
and let me in as team members diffuse.

I search for “Room 237,”
I guess it’s on the second floor.
I begin my search for the elevator,
only to be lost even more.

I finally bump into a doctor,
his tie sharp, his coat white and long.
His ID mentions something about “Plastics,”
following him, I cannot go wrong.

I pretend to answer a text,
until he’s a few steps ahead.
We take a left, and then a right,
and then up the stairs he led.

At last, I finally see it,
Oh my, oh glory! There it lies!
“Room 237,” “Office of Dr. S,”
I knock, enter, but couldn’t believe my eyes.

No one’s there, not even his coat,
more defeated I could not be.
In a panic I head to the surgery board,
And, of course, his surgery’s started in OR three.

I leave my bag in his office,
and rush over to the operating room.
A nurse quickly stops me, confused and concerned,
“you need some help with scrubs, I assume.”

I quickly glance down and realize,
I’m in my shirt and jeans.
Together we head on down the hall,
over to the hidden scrub machines.

I choose a pair of larges,
And rush to the bathroom to change.
I dart to the proper OR and quickly head in,
but it couldn’t have been more strange.

Everyone was staring curiously at me,
I could swear the patient was too.
I quickly and clumsily introduce myself,
and the surgeon nods kindly as if he knew.

I explain in brief the entire situation,
he chuckles and provides a hidden grin.
“Welcome to the OR, glad to have you,
now go get scrubbed in.”

Image credit: Non-Descript Hospital Hallway (CC BY-SA 2.0) by ScottD_Arch

Poetry Thursdays is an initiative that highlights poems by medical students and physicians. If you are interested in contributing or would like to learn more, please contact our editors.

Brian James Brian James (10 Posts)

Former Managing Editor and Contributing Writer

University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine

Currently, Brian is a fourth-year medical student at the University of South Florida Morsani College of Medicine. He was born in Westchester County, NY, and moved to Laguna Beach, CA in 2007. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacology and a Bachelor of Science in Biopsychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2017. Brian is planning on becoming an OB/GYN and is currently interested in Surgical Oncology. Outside of the classroom, Brian enjoys playing racquetball, reading on personal finance and nutrition, and enjoying outdoor activities at the beach and hiking.