Contrary to what some people may think, I really am just an ordinary peace-loving, conflict-avoiding, non-wave making individual. All I want out of life is to do my job, help people, at the end of the day listen to my fat dog snore and growl at rabbits in her sleep while I type away at my little blog or labor over my latest crafty creation. And mostly to let the world around me sort out it’s own d*mn problems.
Sounds pretty good doesn’t it?
Well, tough noogies because that is just not how it works. Not in my world anyway. I just finished a nursing night shift worse than any shift I’ve worked in a long time. At this point its all just a blur of yelling, the doctor yelling at everyone, me yelling at the doctor (because the old coot is pretty much deaf, refused to put in their hearing aids, and told me to yell at them) until I gave up and let my naturally much louder compadre take over that end of communications, IV medications, frothy blood-tinged sputum, and people in jumpsuits swarming around my incoherent patient.
It was a disaster. Mostly because of Dr. YellyCoot. And now I am going to have to go the DON and complain about them because, apparently, no one else has taken the initiative after months of working with Captain Amazing to point out that they are a danger to anyone who happens to wander within a 10 foot radius of them, much less a poor defenseless sick person. And why has no one else spoken up??? Okay, probably because of the sh*t storm I’m facing when I do. Not to mention the wrath of YellyCoot. Luckily, they’re so shaky I’m pretty sure they couldn’t actually hit me with anything. Not too hard anyway.
I know that it’s hard to stand up to Doctors, or any co-workers for that matter. Especially mean, old, cranky ones who yell a lot. But still, it is our responsibility as health care providers to protect our patients. Even if it means protecting them from one of our own. Sh*t storm or no sh*t storm.
I’ve been having a lot of conflicted feelings lately about speaking up or challenging attendings or providers. As my knowledge and experience have increased, so has my ability to actually contribute to patient work-ups and care. But I am still a lowly, what-the-heck-do-I-know med student/RN, and with that thought foremost in mind, it has been a real battle to muster up the courage to speak up most of the time.
Now when I do speak up, I always try to do it in the most polite, deferential, professional (non-yelling) of manners, and never in front of the patient (a sure-fire way to get instantly punted off a service or out of any imaginable care setting – no joke). And sometimes, I’m actually heard, whether they appreciate and can use my input notwithstanding, and other times I am completely ignored. Which, not gonna lie, smarts a bit. But, still, at least I spoke up when driven to in what I perceived to be the best interests of the patient. Which is better than the alternative, which is frankly unforgivable.
I’m just saying. Grow a pair people. Take a stand and say something when you think it could help a patient. Its intimidating and difficult, but it’s your job and another human being who trusts and depends on you could potentially suffer if you wuss out. (And again, the saying of something should be done with your absolute best attempts at politeness, professionalism, deference, non-yellingness, and never in front of the patient).
I wish I could say that this is the extent of my current unwanted conflictual obligations.
But alas, it is not.
I have also been informed recently that my attendance is not only desired, but strictly mandatory, at a host of imminent graduation events. Which I had been gleefully planning on just plain old skipping in favor of doing something (okay pretty much anything would have sufficed) less completely pointless, boring, and really, nauseating.
I am not a fresh-faced 17 year old itching to go out and make my mark on the world, and have some big, stupid, long, boring, pointless party to celebrate that fact. Med school, from day one, has been a job for me. A job where I learn how to do more as a health care provider and get to practice a lot. Period. It is not some grandiose ‘achievement’ to be lauded with multiple big, stupid, long, boring, pointless parties when I could be doing a multitude of other actually important and productive things.
Like spending time (like real time, as in hanging out, and talking, and doing fun things) with my loved ones (as opposed to catching a glimpse of them every couple days across a giant auditorium, while I sit for hours on end willing one of the ceiling tiles to fall and put me out of my misery) who I have hardly seen in the past four years, and maybe even doing something really awesome like having a quilt-a-thon and making lots of blankets for sick kids and cancer patients.
But no. I don’t get a choice, because apparently The Constitution and all those silly things about ‘freedom’ in it do not apply in The Land Of Medical School. Anger is just too small a term to encompass the way this makes me feel.
Frankly, if they want to have big, stupid, long, boring, pointless party to celebrate something, why don’t they throw a shindig for every nurse who works a double shift without a peep of protest and then goes home exhausted, covered in every bodily fluid the human body is capable of manufacturing, to raise their kids, keep their homes livable, and then after a few hours of sleep, goes back to save a few more lives and alleviate some suffering? Because that person has done something remarkable. I have just sat in a classroom, poured over some books and notes, had someone hold my hand in clinic with no real responsability or accountability, and eaten a whole lot of free food for the last four years. It truly embarrasses me to have any kind of ceremony to celebrate this.
If they really want to have parties for med students, let them get through residency, practice for a few years and have done something (hopefully, knowing the jokers in my class) meaningful and worthwhile for the human race, then, Hey! Yeah! lets have a big, stupid, long, boring, pointless party to celebrate. Seriously, I’ll buy the keg.
Until then, I might have to go to graduation, but I am not going to like it, and you med school have forced me to speak up at the inherent wrongness of it all. Plus, if I have to go I am going to make sure that my brother is there. My brother who has absolutely no qualms about doing and saying the things I’d like to say but do not in the interest of avoiding any hint of a fuss, in his Borat bathing suit, with a John 3:16 sign in one hand and a giant foam finger on the other. It is the only way I will get through this travesty. Along (perhaps) with a healthy dose of Xanax and (most definitely) my iPod. Do not look at me med school, look at the guy in the Borat bathing suit. You did this to yourself.
Conflicts aside, I drove home this morning watching the dry, brown fields sparkle with diamonds of frozen dew, listening to Tiny Dancer on the radio, and wondering, praying that my patient will be okay. I may be an ordinary peace-loving, conflict-avoiding, non-wave making individual, but I will fight if I have to.
I will fight for you my patient. With everything I have. I promise. Until I can’t fight anymore.