Who is Running the Code Blue?

At the end of my critical care fellowship I was rotating at one of our outside facilities and a code blue was called overhead. I ran to it knowing the residents at this facility weren’t the strongest in their ACLS knowledge. When I arrived at the bedside there was a young female running the code like a champ. She was petite and pretty. Her shiny hair was pulled up in a pony tail and she was wearing light blue scrubs with a decorative hoodie on. Her badge was also backwards so I had no idea who she was. She was very different from the other residents I had trained at the hospital. She was powerful, assertive, and clearly the code leader. I watched her for a while. Should I butt in? Should I take over? Was she a doctor?

And there it was.

I couldn’t tell if she was at the usual level to be the code leader…. Meaning, was she a nurse and therefore once I arrived I was obligated to take over? I’ve seen many nurses run ACLS codes like a boss, but technically once a certified physician arrives she/he should take over as code leader.

I just kept watching. All of her orders were correct. Why should I stop a good thing? I finally politely asked her “are you a medicine resident?” She replied yes.

Bam. I felt ashamed. I’ve always hated it when people ask me if I’m the student, intern, assistant, etc. There I was looking in the mirror and even I didn’t assume she was a doctor right away.

I made my presence known as the fellow in case she needed help and eventually we were out of treatment options. My attending arrived and had nothing else to add. We had done everything and unfortunately the patient expired. Before my attending left he reminded me to give the resident feedback on the code. I meekly walked up to her and basically told her she did a great job as the code leader. She smiled and said thanks. She was also at the end of her training and was soon headed to a prestigious cardiology fellowship in Los Angeles.

I hope she’s doing well and still asserting herself as a leader.


  1. Sonali | 31st Aug 17

    This was a wonderful and inspiring account.

    • thefemaledoc | 6th Sep 17

      Thank you!

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