Thursday, November 10, 2011

The flame never dies.

Even though supervising a team of residents on the inpatient service can be grueling at times,  the end of the month is still surprisingly bittersweet. Especially when you've had a great team dynamic and everyone clicked.  There's something about being in the trenches together and taking good care of patients shoulder to shoulder that feels good--even when it's exhausting.

I've been fortunate to have quite a few months like that. After ten years on the faculty at Grady, some of them have started running together. . . but as long as I sit and carefully reflect, I can almost always knock the dust off of the best memories.  Some of those wonderful learners are faculty now and some have moved on to thriving practices in far away places. But all have left a little piece of themselves with me and I appreciate that.

At the end of each ward month, traditionally the team gets together for a team meal. I used to take my team to a restaurant (and still do sometimes--depending upon how junky my house is!) but now my preference is to have them over to my home. Tonight my October ward team came over for laughter, food and fellowship.  It was a perfect punctuation to an awesome month.

I'd split the month with my colleague and fellow Grady doctor, Richard P. He was gracious enough to step in when I begged asked him to share the schedule with me in October. Working on the inpatient service involves rounds on weekends and disruption to the family flow--especially with small kids. So Richard agreed to do the first half of the month and for me to do the same for him in March. I was so grateful when he said he'd alter his schedule on such short notice. My family was grateful, too.

So this dinner was extra special because in addition to having the interns, students and residents from my team, I also had another attending-- Richard P. --there.  We all sat at my dining room table laughing and sharing and honoring our patients through stories. This part was Richard's idea, and it was a lovely one indeed.  Everyone spoke so lovingly of their patients and the lessons. . . even the more difficult ones.  Rich started the discussion and set the tone.  And everyone followed his lead. It was beautiful. Just beautiful.

And so. I just finished cleaning up the last of the kitchen and blew out the candle on yet another team dinner. That candle represented another special team and another special month. . . brimming with its own memories, stories, lessons, and relationships. This time it was "Team J--for Jammin'." Led by Sandeep--a bright and eager second year resident--and rounded out by a collection of exquisitely different people and personalities. I stood there watching the plumes of smoke weaving into the air like floating threads of taffy. . . .feeling thankful for not just a job but a career that is centered around building relationships. It's a blessing to have an opportunity at the end of these months to break bread with people who value these relationships too.

So here's to my teams over the years. . . .Team J for Jammin' (with the mantra "committed to excellence!"), Team K for Knowledge aka Team Kiwi, all three versions of Team Awesome, Team Totally Awesome, Team OM-expletive-G the late-night rounders, Team Dynamic, Team "One Thing," The Roy Month Experience, Team Maravilloso, Team Alter Ego with Sameera A., The Spice Girls, The Dream Team,  Charlita's Angels. . . . .  and a decade's worth of other teams with unique nicknames that I've had the distinct pleasure of teaching, learning, and growing beside in this special world called Grady Hospital. The candle might get blown out at the end of the month, but trust me. . . . the flame never dies.

The Late Night Rounders--The Epic Month with Team OM-expletive-G
with members of Team Awesome aka The Perfect (Team) 10

From "The Spice Girls" ward month--here with "Posh" at her graduation.  (I was "Spice Boss.")
and at a residency graduation with members of Team "One Thing"

Good times, man.

Happy Thursday.


  1. I have read many of your blog entries now. You are a fabulous writer but that is the least of your fabulousness. I can't imagine a more wonderful physician and mentor and mom and wife. God bless you Doctor! Joanne

  2. Reminds me of my days as an elementary school teacher. I always was sad when my students left me at the end of the year, but was excited when my new students came. Some have gone on to do amazing things, and I'd like to think I played a small part in that.

  3. I know those residents will look back on their time with you as a time when they were truly valued and cherished. That, my dear Dr Manning is a wonderful thing that is rare indeed in medical education. Also, I am SURE that your mother had a big part to play in her student's life and in your life as well. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree....

  4. Joanne- I deeply appreciate your encouragement. Thank you.

    Mom aka Shugsie -- You = The best.

    Mary Alice -- That sweet woman who commented before you is my mother, and you are 100% correct in that assumption! My mother is an amazing human being and continues to be a gifted educator. I see more and more of my mother in myself the older I get. . . and that, Mary Alice is a GOOD thing.


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