Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Scut is term, leftover from medical residency, referring to any list of unwanted tasks, as in:  "What kinda scut's on your list?  I have 6 IV starts, 2 EKGs, a STAT blood draw and that infection in room 202 needs another new bandage...."  It's a list of the stuff they make students do all night long, or at least they used to, as a form of convoluted payback for the privilege of paying money to stay up all night trying to learn how to keep people from dying by being sent to do useless scut while people who already know something keep people from dying.  I remember being told it was an acronym for 'Some Common Useless Task." 

This should, of course, be differentiated from a 'Learning Experience'.  A 'Learning Experience' was doing something that NO ONE would ever want to do, as in, "Hey, let's have the student figure out how to get the maggots out of that drunk guy's leg wound.  That's a REAL "Learning Experience!"  In this case, scut might be translated, "Some Common Unpleasant Task." (And the kicker at the end of THAT particular 'Learning Experience' might be when the chief surgical resident explains, with some degree of asperity, that he would like you to leave his maggots where they ARE thank-you-very-much because they were doing a great job of debriding the wound and YOU just made his job that much harder, you moron.  And then you realize that the guy who gave you this 'L.E.' knew that, the effin' bastard.  Yes, this is how they train doctors.)

What, you ask, brought on the reminiscent ranting?

When I left work at 6:30 last evening there were 13 'tasks' left on my computer.  When I arrived at work today at 7:45 AM there were 57.  This does not include the 40 charts I need to review for my NP and my PA.  These do not include the stack of disability, school physical and handicap sticker request forms on my desk, nor the inch-thick stack of lab and x-ray reports that need to be looked over.  It doesn't include all the billing forms that patients walked out of the door with last month that I need to look up a note for, rebill and sign.

I saw about 20 people today.  I took about 10 minutes for lunch, and I'm pretty sure I made it to the  bathroom a couple of times.  There were two empty cans of seltzer on my desk, and an open jar of peanuts, so I clearly took fluids and nourishment.

But I kept tabs - I always do, to some extent.  I cleared over 150 separate tasks - chart notes, prescription refills, recommendations to the worried well (no, really, you won't get Ebola at Walmart), deciding if that fall from a crib warrants an ER visit, adjusting medications for Hospice patients - finally getting to the bottom of my in box for the first time in weeks.  There are still 15 tasks on the computer list, the 40 charts still need review, and about 5 more forms.  I left at 7:30.  And I get to do it all again tomorrow.

I guess there are differences between then and now.  Now, it's 'tasks' and not 'scut'.  And I'm paid to do it instead of paying to do it.  And I get a little more sleep. 

But I can't say it's an awful lot more fun.


1 comment:

  1. I worked as a medical secretary for years. My hardest job was organizing all the "Scut" tasks for my boss. It was a never ending shuffle of paperwork. I would pull charts, forts etc to the top of the pile, only to see them buried underneath more paperwork. I ended up with a "top 5" method. He agreed to complete the top 5 each day before he went home. I would clearly flag the top 5 and it was a big deal that he did them since I was on the answering end of countless phone calls from patients, insurance companies, other doctors know how it is.

    On occasion, his On Call would be slow or he would come in on a weekend and "clear the scut" which left me with piles all over my office and groaning loudly. It's a never ending battle.