Waking up patients is one of those skills I never realized I needed until I started 3rd year. Each morning the patients need to be woken up so that we can pre-round and get updated on all the overnight events. On my first day, one of my senior residents told me, “this is a hospital not a hotel, so don’t feel bad about waking the patients up”. But, it’s so hard to not feel bad! It’s tough enough that you have to brutally awaken someone up from a deep sleep, but then you have to follow it up with way-too-personal questions about their voids and pain levels and whatnot, and then proceed to poke and prod them everywhere. At first I would always try to do the exam without awakening the patient. And in theory this is great, but it usually backfires because the patient will wake up mid-exam and have a panic attack about the random person looming over them in the dark. Since then I’ve used all sorts of tricks, methods, and techniques to try to make this process as painless as possible. I’ve tried turning on the lights slowly, opening windows, whispering, knocking obnoxiously, shaking etc. But no matter what, no one is ever happy about it. It’s like being stuck between a rock and a hard place.
There are so many other things like this that I wish I had some warning about. But I do take solace in the fact that it gets easier with time. Eventually, that patient will wake up, and despite how mad they are, they usually understand why it is necessary.