Resident life blog

August 2013 – Avid baker turns doctor

By Emily Godbout, D.O.
Pediatric resident

My mother bought me a top of the line, stainless steel KitchenAid mixer when I moved to Richmond and settled into my 1920’s bungalow style house. I regret to inform you; while I was an avid baker, it sat on my kitchen countertop for months waiting for the first jolt of electricity to send its robust paddle into a frenzy. It laid dormant and unused for an important reason: I was busy, and starting my intern year as a pediatric resident at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR). Instead of calculating and measuring the exact amount of almond flour necessary for a perfectly formed French macaroon, I suddenly found myself calculating sedation drips, morphine PCAs and carbohydrate to insulin ratios. Instead of adding lemon juice or powdered sugar to create various consistencies of royal icing, I was increasing and decreasing sugars and electrolytes in total parenteral nutrition for children with various, chronic conditions. Every step along the way with every calculation and every measurement, there was someone supporting me. That someone often included co-interns, senior residents and attending physicians but was frequently expanded to nurses, pharmacists (I love you Shelia Pedigo!), respiratory therapists, etc., etc.!

The support and training at CHoR has been, for lack of a better word, awesome. I looked to my senior residents for guidance, confidence and advice. I often think of a particular night of my intern year, in which my senior resident was brilliant and cool in a situation that presented itself as chaotic and tragic. He effortlessly made a quick assessment of a sick patient and ordered the appropriate tests and interventions to ensure the best possible medical care and evidence based medicine. That night he had what I like to call an unshakable decency. I found myself proud that this is who I could be at the end of my training. I knew in this moment that I had chosen the right program to teach me the skills and knowledge to handle any situation with an unshakable decency.

As I became more comfortable in the program and more efficient in my work and personal life, I busted out the butter and sugar for their first taste in a high-class, stainless steel mixing bowl. I threw the most excellent mini-dessert soiree for my co-residents. The night was filled with laughs and (more importantly) cheesecakes, cake pops, whoopie pies, apple pies, cupcakes, Rice Krispies, Bavarian sugar cookies with royal icing, butterscotch cookies and a self-serve ice cream buffet. While we certainly are a very health conscious group, we allowed a night of indulgence to break-in my KitchenAid mixer.

As I start my second year as a senior resident, I think back to my favorite Albert Camus works. I always found his words eloquent but his messages simple. I would summarize them as this:

  • Reduce the total sum of suffering in the world.
  • Speak up for those who cannot.

I continuously strive to live by these rules. I am proud and honored to be part of a group, a family or whatever you would like to call it that supports me and supports my goals of caring for and advocating for our most precious population: children.