Thursday, April 2, 2009
A blogging haiku...and then some
My laptop is blank.
Fascinating things to say?
Okay, I did think of something. You know what I've noticed when I go in to see my students at the hospital? That what I wear makes all the difference in how people regard me as I walk down the hall. If I'm in my hospital-issued "blues," nobody really gives a rip about me walking by them as I mosey through the hospital. (I'm talking about the random cloud of visitors, not those with whom I work who recognize me. When THEY see me in my white lab coat, they laugh and say, "Nice white lab coat.") But if I'm walking in to the hospital wearing nice clothing, carrying a messenger bag, and wearing a white lab coat, people make eye contact and say hello. (I usually try to make eye contact and say hi to everyone, whether in my nice clothes or just running in with my Windmill Restaurant tshirt and jeans.) One lady I crossed paths with in the parking lot who was heading to her car smoking a cigarette, took one look at me and hid the cigarette behind her back, gave me a megawatt smile, and said "HI!" while practically standing at attention.
I have the impression they think I'm a doctor. I'm not anti-doctor in any way (heaven help me if I were), but what's with the "step aside, smile nicely, chin up for the DOCTOR!" thing? How 'bout smiling and making eye contact and returning the greeting of the housekeeper, the respiratory therapist, the radiology tech, or the nurse?
Doctors Day was this past Monday - most of the ones with whom I work are talented and deserve accolades for the great job they do every day. Nurses Day is next month. Nurses have a completely different role from the doctors while working alongside them. We are not simply "handmaidens to the gods" (as one doctor long ago told a nurse I used to work with), we are not just "order takers" (though sometimes it feels that way), and our job is not "just to do what the doctor says." Our roles with the docs are interwoven, complementary, and when played out appropriately, form a fabulous, respectful, patient-advocating relationship. The knowledge that we are required to have about every little body system on the micro and macro level is enormous. We're required to keep up with the latest research and know how to apply it - and anyone with access to a magazine or newspaper knows that the latest research changes practically on a daily basis. We work long hours, and miss many weekends, evenings, and holidays (so do the housekeepers, respiratory therapists, and radiology techs, I should add). My friend Renee summed it well in the talk she gave last month at Hope: nurses stand at the gates of life and the gates of death. There are awesome moments and there are terrible moments, but no matter what, we have to be ready to clock in for the next shift.
I'm proud of what I do, whether I'm in a lab coat, scrubs, or wearing one of those funny hair coverings and duck-bill masks for the operating room. With Nurses Day approaching, at the risk of sounding cheesy, remember to make eye contact and smile at everyone in scrubs (or some equivalent thereof)...not just those doctors. ;D