"When you get those rare moments of clarity, those flashes when the universe makes sense, you try desperately to hold on to them. They are the life boats for the darker times, when the vastness of it all, the incomprehensible nature of life is completely illusive. So the question becomes, or should have been all a long... What would you do if you knew you only had one day, or one week, or one month to live. What life boat would you grab on to? What secret would you tell? What band would you see? What person would you declare your love to? What wish would you fulfill? What exotic locale would you fly to for coffee? What book would you write?"

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Why Thank You, Doctor!

So I am getting to be a LOT better with doctors. I never thought I'd hear myself saying that, but I guess its human nature to eventually get better at things you suck at. And in the nursing world, either you get better at it, or you fall drastically behind. You have *no time* to be bad, you have no time to be nervous about talking to doctors, you just have to do it, and quickly. Know what you're talking about, try and have as much information available as possible, and ask the right questions. And be really, really nice. That always helps. :)

I'm getting to be pretty comfortable with the doctors, too. The other day I called one out on 2 mistakes he made med-wise that could have been pretty unfortunate if I hadn't questioned it. So, yay!

So far all the doctors I have worked with have been very cordial. Which is awesome. And for the scarier ones, I can get by with doing the above and being super nice. However, being new has its extreme disadvantages. For example, we don't have "pictures" of the doctors. Eventually the nurses just meet each doctor one by one and memorize what they look like. But when I'm new, there are a bajillion things on your mind, and memorizing doctors isn't high on that priority list (yet). There have been days when my preceptor is like, "when you see Dr. Blahblah, make sure to tell your patient is blahblahblahing" and I'm all like, "okay." And then five minutes later I realize I haven't the slightest idea what Dr. Blahblah looks like.

So eventually I'm meeting them one by one. I embarrass myself frequently by staring them down in the hallways, trying to get a good view of their nametags and memorize their face. They aren't a huge fan of that (me staring at them funny). I try and do it like as I'm walking by or tying my shoe or something, but...well, you know. Also, whenever *any* type of doctor,( primary, secondary, consult, hospitalist, etc) is in to see my patient, I introduce myself and try to make myself memorable so they know later who they're talking to on the phone. I'd so much rather walk right up to a doctor in person and introduce myself rather than talk to a doctor I don't know on the phone.

And thats why I came up with a brilliant idea. Granted, nurses must face hardships when starting their first job.  Its unavoidable, and necessary. Older nurses training younger nurses play it off as, "eventually you'll learn the doctors". But the way I see it as, patient safety is nursing number one concern, right? Right. Not learning doctors. Why make an extra stressor for ourselves (for new nurses) if we don't have to, and could instead be stressing on how to advocate best for our patients? Doctor and nurse communication has improved, but is still lacking. And thats in general. New nurse and doctor communication is suffering even more. Which circles back to patient safety. If new nurses are afraid to speak up to doctors, then they might not speak up at all. Advocacy suffers, less phone calls are made and the nurse is definitely not going to make the extra effort to give you (the doc) as much information as possible.

So this is my cure. A luncheon! Yeah!

No really, I'm serious. What if hospitals adapted a monthly luncheon for doctors to meet all new staff (and anyone else that wanted to come?). At first, you may laugh. Especially if you happen to be a doctor reading this blog. But seriously, hear me out.

This benefits the doctors too. Believe it or not, (especially big hospitals), new doctors come on staff all the time. If I were a doctor I'd like to attend and graze over a couple friendly nurse faces that I'll be working with on the floors. Also, c'mon...free food. From the hospital (probably?).

Who would attend? Residents (new and old), doctors, Interns, surgeons, etc. As many different types of doctors that wanted to come as possible. And new nurses would be required to go, and old nurses highly encouraged to go.

Granted, no one wants to go to "these types of things" ever. So there would have to be a cool incentive to go, like cake. Everyone likes cake. And money. But cake is cool too.

What would people do there, besides eat and stare at each others name tags? Well, hopefully talk. Strike up some conversations. If it was totally awkward like a middle school dance and no one talked, I would have to bring out the icebreakers. Like actually getting a podium and introducing new staff for all to see. And maybe make them say a five second blurb about themselves. But thats the last resort.

So, granted, the hospital wouldn't want to pay for this, doctors wouldn't want to go to such a "lame" thing, and it would probably never work. But its a nice thought, in theory.....in a nice cooperative world, it would totally work. And be awesome. Then again in a nice cooperative world, you wouldn't need this, because doctors and nurses would have awesome communication techniques all the time.

Its just that some doctors just don't.....get it. They don't get nurses, don't see nurses as a vital part of their patients care. If you call them, you're bothering them. It makes all the difference. However, a couple shifts ago last week one of my patients doctors came in. After he was done speaking to my patient, I caught him on his way out. I introduced myself, and he introduced himself and what kind of doctor he was (that was helpful). After blahblahblah talking, he made sure to finish the conversation with, "Call anytime for anything you need for him."  I felt like going to give him a super duper handshake or pat on the back or something for being so awesome. Thats how doctors should be! Yes!

The hospitalist I've been working with for four weeks now, has been.....truly amazing. Granted he is quite new himself and is probably trying to just be nice to everyone he meets, but I genuinely think he's just a nice, great, smart doctor. He has been *so* patient with me and me being new. Anything my patients need, I can feel comfortable calling him for anything and it is no problem. Thats the line of communication that is ultimately desired with all (or at least most) of your coworker doctors. Right? Right. Today he went home two hours late, and he looked tired. And all I wanted to do was go give him a huge hug or high five or any of the above, for not only being such a terrific doctor thus far but for treating me as an equal and for being so patient with me. A + for him. But I didn't. Because any of the above actions would be very strange.

What do my fellow nurse readers think? (if I have any?) Do you guys have a luncheon or something similar to get docs and nurses acquainted? How do docs and nurses communicate differently in your hospital? Does it affect patient safety or patient advocacy? Is there something you want to do about that?


With love, ~ WNB

Do something! Communicate!



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