I run into the cardiothoracic surgery fellow in the cafeteria line. We haven't worked together in nearly a year, but there's a bond among people who've shared call nights sucking pus from lungs.

We exchange pleasantries, and then he asks me where I'm rotating now.

Me: Emergency! (I always try to pronounce it with the enthusiasm of Kool & the Gang)
CT surgeon: Why are you doing that rotation now? This summer, you should be planning for your residency.
Me: Oh, you know, I actually want a residency in EM.
CT (shaking his head): But you were so good, man.

Pride and shame! A difficult pair of emotions to elicit simultaneously, yet he manages it. I want to tell him that Emergency has always been my favorite part of the hospital, that it's the best tailored fit to my skills, my personality, my needs. I want to quote Carter's speech to Anspaugh when he left the surgery residency on "ER" .

Instead, I ask him to just take care of the patients I send his way. We might yet share a few chest tubes together, but he'll be draining empyemas with someone else.