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A Piece of My Mind
July 12, 2006


Author Affiliations

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 2006;296(2):149-150. doi:10.1001/jama.296.2.149

“Platelets 22, WBC 2.4, hemoglobin 7.6.” To a nonphysician, this is some kind of obtuse code. For me, these phrases have long been a second language. How many times have I sat on rounds while interns and medical students recited the ritual CBC counts for me?


My first clinical rotation as a medical student was pediatrics. In 1984, there were no Broviac catheters. Drawing blood from the pediatric oncology patients was too difficult for the hospital phlebotomy team, which was trained to draw blood from adults. The work fell to pediatric interns, assisted by medical students like me. I decided not to go into pediatrics in part because of how difficult it was for me to participate in the seemingly sadistic task of drawing blood from tearful children with no hair and few accessible veins.