21 years in practice | Emergency Medicine | Ochsner Medical Center, Slidell
“My freshman calculus professor told the class to go to his house if anyone needed help. Sure enough, a group of us rang his doorbell, and he invited us in to review the material. I could be wrong, but I don’t think that’s happening at many universities. The individualized attention at Nicholls gave me the best chance of getting into med school.”
The saying in emergency medicine ought to be: Go into it for the stories, and stay for the medicine. You can’t get these kinds of crazy stories anywhere else. When I first started working as an emergency room doctor, it was about 3 a.m., and I was in the back doing some reading when the nurses called me. They said, “Dr. Hansen, we have a lady out here who has burning on urination. She says she’s on her period.” I said, “OK, let’s go ahead and put in a urinary catheter.” Shortly after, they called me back and said, “When we went to insert the catheter, we found a head.” So it’s 3 in the morning, this woman is having a baby — she said she didn’t know she was pregnant — and there’s no obstetrician, so I had to deliver the baby.
That’s one of the biggest challenges of emergency medicine. It’s so broad, and sometimes you’re flying by the seat of your pants. I never know what I’m going to do on any given day. I had a guy come in one night with a bad toothache and ask for a nerve block. I said, “I’m not trained to work on teeth.” He said, You have some books in the back, huh? Go look it up. I’ll be here when you get back.” So that’s how I learned to do dental blocks.
When I first came to Ochsner Medical Center in Slidell, it was really quiet. The volume was about 30 percent less than where I had come from, so it was a nice, slow pace. Then one day, they bring in a teenager — a gang member who was probably about 16 — who went into a truck stop to wash his hands, and somebody shot him in the neck. He ended up doing fine, but it was quite different from what I was used to seeing. The craziest shift I ever had was at Thibodaux Regional Medical Center, where I dealt with two broken necks and a gunshot wound all in one night.
Through it all, my philosophy is if I stay calm, my patients will be calm. Emergency medicine is a tough job that few people can do, so it’s gratifying to know that I can do it and help people in the process.
— Written by Stephanie Verdin, publications coordinator
This article originally appeared in the fall 2013 issue of Voila! magazine. Click here to read the entire issue.