For some reason, I had a high school student intern one day last week. I thought it was very odd since high schools are usually trying to accomplish internships early in the school year. Plus, my boss Jane was on vacation so I had no idea she was coming.
She was very quiet. Painfully quiet. It was an effort for her to get out her name.
"Annette", she whispered after I had begged her to repeat it three times; she looked about 12 years old.
"So, are you planning on going to nursing school?" After thinking for awhile, she responded with a barely audible, "Medical school".
It was a long four hours. She did not initiate conversation; she only responded to my questions after struggling to come up with an answer. I have never met anyone so pathologically shy. I found out she is going to Big Boston Institution of Higher Learning, (BBIHL) having achieved early acceptance. Talk about jumping into a shark tank wrapped in a Lady Gaga meat suit.
I took her into triage with me a few times, but since it was a pretty quiet night (as it usually is when we have a student) I just stopped trying after awhile and read a journal. I was kind of relieved when she left. I always ask students what the most interesting part of their experience was in order to put it in some kind of perspective, or get some of my own as to how to improve the experience for the next student. Annette responded: "Nothing".
Jesus tap dancing Christ.
Jane and Second in Command and I were finishing up a little business at the start of the shift and Annette came in; crap, not again. I greeted her and introduced her to Jane; I directed her to put her things in our back room.
Jane looked at me quizically; "Who was that?"
Me: "Student. She was painful the other day, could barely get a word out of her"
Jane: "She looks like she's about 12! Is she even in high school?"
Me: "Yep, graduating in June. She's been accepted to BBIHL and she wants to go to med school"
Jane: "Holy Crap! She'll get eaten alive!"
Me: "I know, she will never survive orientation"
Nothing rattles the Talker. Usually.
There are always exceptions. He is good with teaching, but I could see that he was having difficulty conversing with Annette.
"So, is any one in your family in medicine?"
"So, what made you decide to think about med school?"
After thinking for about 20 seconds, "To help people?"
He asked a lot of the same questions I did, and I had to squeeze my lips together to keep from answering for her, it was that uncomfortable. It was a little busier so we at least had some things for her to see.
We had her watch the Talker put an orthoglass splint on a little girl with a fractured wrist. He explained everything, showed her what he was doing, gave her a piece of orthoglass play with. She was silent; the Talker just looked helpless.
I had a thought that maybe her guidance counselor should have given us some kind of heads up on this one; not all fragile people come equipped with a "Handle With Care" stamp.
Annette planned to spend her final four hours of her mini-internship at the Mother Ship. Yikes.