Medical Internship – Part Two

Medical Internship – Part Two

by Sr. Margaret Anne Meyer MMM                   U.S.A.                                 04.07.2024

Yes, Conferring Day contained many lessons. It was a day “betwixt and between”. The brief visit at our house of studies in Rosemount brought home to us that we were beyond our strenuous medical course studies and not yet capable doctors. Our Hippocratic Oath both guided and bound us to do no harm. Thank God for this period of guidance from experienced doctors who held the patients at heart and did their best to relieve their painful situation. There was also more to do and more to learn. We were fortunate to have a good medical library and current issues of the British Medical Journal on display. We also enjoyed presenting a case at the Medical Club held every Monday morning. All departments participated.

At that time, the hospital was only half built. A beautiful staircase lined the outer wall, and one could look out at the surrounding hills while walking to the various floors. I remember being overwhelmed one day with the number of patients for examination. I had tried to keep to what I had learned to do. However, a very thorough examination including the central nervous system was not always called for. I began to realize I could not spend so much time doing so on each patient. One day, as I gazed out the window, Psalm 121 came to me, “I look towards the mountains from whence shall come my help.” And plenty of help came to me from uttering that prayer. All the patients were seen in and helped in a good way.

I also liked the regularity of the convent life. were rung for the various prayers, and I liked joining in with the other Sisters when we were not on duty. We did not have beepers in those days, but the hospital tele system would resound all over and we would call the operator to see where we were needed. As we left the hospital, the Sister doctors would sign off on a sheet giving our next location. The operator would call for us there. For the first time, I had a telephone in my room so I could be called at night.

I found the night calls very exciting. Sometimes you would get a call that a patient was on the way, and they would not arrive until two or three hours later. At that time there were no Pediatric Registrars, so the Medical House Doctor would admit the sick children during the night and call the Pediatrician, Doctor O’Sullivan, who would prescribe treatment based on your clinical findings. I was also called for Casualty emergencies when the Surgical Team was in the theatre.

After some time, I got to know the patients very well. Many patients on the sixth floor, Male Medical, had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Some required tracheotomies and were hospitalized for a long time. I thought it would be good to see if there were any underlying factor causing so many men from Drogheda especially from Windmill Road, to suffer this condition. I asked Dr. Costello if I could return to the library of UCD, my medical school, to do some research on their condition. Dr. Oliver Mc Cullen drove me to Dublin and stopped off at Temple Street at a blacksmith’s shop to tell me this was the only shop left of its kind in Dublin. Many men got COPD from inhaling the fumes off the horse’s hoof when the hot horseshoe was applied. I marveled at this and his interest in teaching me. I cannot remember what I learned in the library, but Dr. Costello was impressed with my efforts and gave me a current edition of Cecil and Loebe. It was regarded as the Bible of medical knowledge. I was very pleased and grateful to him.

I remained fascinated with the whole experience of seeing a patient come to us very ill, listen to their story and make a diagnosis with their information, some lab tests and other diagnostic tests. Sometimes it was not so clear and what originally was thought to be the case did not help the patient very well, so other avenues were explored. Costello was a whiz at this process, and I learned very much from him.

The months continued until mid-October when it was time for Martha Collins and me to make Final Profession of Vows. Maura Lynch would make hers the following year as she had started Medical School as a second-year novice. You will hear all about this in another story.