posted on March 19, 2021 by Mike Krentz

Tales from The Pit

When I showed up in the ER many years ago for my first shift as an emergency physician, I didn’t consider myself a pioneer.

The American Board of Medical Specialties had not yet recognized emergency medicine as a bona fide clinical discipline. In those days, physicians often referred to the ER as “The Pit.”  To maintain medical staff privileges, doctors had to take their turns in The Pit—whether they had any knowledge or recent experience in handling medical emergencies. Hospitals assumed that anyone who graduated from medical school had that knowledge. Wrong.

Consider a patient suffering a sudden heart attack brought to an ER staffed by a psychiatrist ten years out of medical school.

“How do you feel about your chest pain?”

No offense to psychiatrists. I respect psychiatry and those who practice it. They save lives. They heal broken minds. When you suffer a heart attack, a stroke, a serious injury, or life-threatening hemorrhage, you want a doctor who treats those conditions every day.

The patient-centered specialty of emergency medicine began when a cadre of dedicated physicians chose to practice full time in the ER. They suffered belittlement and insults from their traditional colleagues. Patients misunderstood their career choice.

“What are you going to do when you finish, Doctor?”

“Finish what?”

“Your training.”

“I am finished. This is what I do.”

Patients’ surprised reactions to that declaration reflected a common belief that doctors who staffed emergency rooms couldn’t make it in private practice. Not so. I chose emergency medicine to help people in times of dire need, distress, or worry; and to gain knowledge and expertise that crossed a range of medical specialties, not just one.

The perseverance of the early emergency medicine pioneers developed a new broad-based body of knowledge, residency training programs, and a board certification process. These innovations resulted in a respected medical specialty that now draws from among the best and brightest medical school graduates.

When I resigned from a residency in neurosurgery and climbed aboard the emergency medicine train, the future of the specialty was still a distant vision. “Worth a shot.”

I never looked back.

My medical thriller, DEAD ALREADY, transports the reader into the complex, stressful environment of a modern-day emergency department; where life battles death amid terrified screams, plaintive whimpers, and shouted orders; where fallible humans strive to postpone death, restore life, or eliminate misery. Our would-be emergency medicine heroes sometimes fail, as all humans do. They may not have time or space to grieve. They suck it up and move on to quiet a frightened child, relieve pain, straighten a broken limb, repair a laceration, or reassure the worried well. All the while, no matter what challenge arrives during their shifts, they put aside personal issues, their own life crises, loves, and losses. The patient in front of them deserves full attention and commitment.

What unseen evil might lurk amid such chaos?

One person who comments will win a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card.

    

Mike Krentz

Mike Krentz

Mike Krentz writes medical suspense, psychological thrillers, and military fiction featuring complex characters. His medical suspense novel, DEAD ALREADY, transports the reader into the stressful environment of emergency medicine, where life battles death amid terrified screams, plaintive whimpers, and shouted orders; where fallible humans strive to postpone death, restore life, or eliminate misery. These would-be heroes sometimes fail. They suck it up and move on to quiet a frightened child, relieve pain, straighten a broken limb, repair a laceration, or reassure the worried well. What evil might lurk amid such chaos? His psychological thriller, ANGELS FALLING, is in press for publication by TouchPoint Press in late 2021. The ritualistic murder of a Catholic archbishop scrambles the lives of an ex-seminarian criminal profiler, a renegade priest cult leader, and the former nun they both desired. Shakespeare, Poe, and Donne add commentary. Mike’s MAHONEY & SQUIRE SERIES, under contract with TouchPoint Press, portrays the lives of servicemen and women, their challenges, and interactions; and their wounds—physical and emotional—that evolve into professional and personal conflicts more daunting than combat. Can essential human relationships survive such brutal demands on hearts and souls? Born and raised in Arizona, Mike earned a classical degree in English from the University of San Francisco, a Doctor of Medicine degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin, and a Master of Public Health Degree from Johns Hopkins University. Following a civilian career as an emergency physician, Mike rededicated his professional life to serve America’s Navy and Marine Corps heroes and their families, and to honor their sacrifices in defending our freedom and way of life. His last active-duty assignment was as 7th Fleet Surgeon on board the flagship, USS BLUE RIDGE. After retiring from the US Navy, Dr. Krentz continued his service as a consultant supporting the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center. Upon completion of that mission, he returned to his earliest life passion as a full-time writer.

Mike Krentz Contest

Mike Krentz is giving away a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card to one winner and download codes for audiobooks of DEAD ALREADY on Audiobooks.com to two additional winners!

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