Pronouncing someone “dead”
Every once in a while, med school knocks you in the head and sees if you’re actually paying attention to what exactly you are studying 10 hours a day for.
I had such an experience today. All 1st year med students have to take a Basic Life Support (read: CPR) class (for obvious reasons). Thus, I went to our skills lab and listened to a current fireman explain all of the latest CPR techniques. He was a great instructor and it is actually very fascinating material (at least more than interleukins and cytokines).
At one point, one of the student’s basically asked when you wouldn’t initiate CPR or at what point you would stop. He said for himself and the paramedics he works with, they have specific protocols and regulations they follow. Then, he pointed out the fact that we (as future doctors) would ultimately have the responsibility of stopping life saving measures and pronouncing someone dead. That is a specific legal responsibility granted to physicians.
It’s a sobering thought. One of those things you don’t really think about when you’re applying to med school.