As an intern in the neonatal intensive-care unit (NICU), I am one of several doctors who rarely see or touch the tiny patients we treat. We sit in a back room off a distant hallway, far removed from the babies, reviewing lab results and blood gases on the computer. Much of the time I feel like the Wizard of Oz, controlling a marvelous machine from behind a curtain.
The only uninterrupted time I have with my patients comes at 5:30 am, during pre-rounds, when I hurriedly examine my ten small, complex charges. This is the most rushed part of the day, but these are also the rare moments that I actually spend with a patient.