Today I was at a rheumatology conference, meandering through a poster session display, hoping to see old friends from the rest of the country and maybe even discover some groundbreaking practice-changing rheumatological science. Well, I did meet the old friends. I was glancing over an interesting poster about the high rates of RA in native americans when somebody tapped me on the shoulder. I turned to find a young woman, completely unknown to me, smiling with a slight timidity that ruled out drug rep. She explained to me that she was a rheumatologist, just starting her practice at a local children's hospital. She wanted to say hello because when she was a medical student, doing her ER rotation, I had apparently taken the time to go over an interesting case with her. She explained that it was that interaction that set her off on her future course. That's all, just wanted to say thanks.
I didn't remember her, nor the case. But I will now. It's not often that one gets such gratifying feedback, a real day-maker. We forget what impact we might have on the medical students and residents we train. If one interaction in a busy ER can influence career choices, imagine the effect of a month on a teaching service. Kind of scary really.