Being in the healthcare industry is one of the greatest, most rewarding careers on earth! But our profession is different than many others. We have a lot of weight to carry, and a lot more responsibility when we’re taking care of people and their loved ones.
If everyone else is supposed to stay home, we have to find a way to make it to work. Hurricane? Patients will inundate the hospital (with every family member and pet) and someone has to be there to take care of them. It’s supposed to flood? You better bring an overnight bag to work with you. In most other professions, bad weather, disaster, or generally unsafe driving conditions means a day off from work. But in healthcare, it means you get creative. And try to show up on time ….because if you can’t get to work, it means someone can’t leave work.
We are like high-dollar servants. We are supposed to try to find a way to be at our patient’s beck and call. This is not always feasible, but either way, we have to tend to every single need of every single patient. And this doesn’t always mean a physical or emotional need. It may mean their room needs to be cleaned or they may want us to hand them their cell phone charger.
Patient satisfaction rules the roost. I actually love patient satisfaction. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again—patient satisfaction shouldn’t trump employee satisfaction, but patient satisfaction is important. Unfortunately, I’m reminded on an almost-daily basis that no other profession cares about my happiness. I’m thankful when I fly if the airline staff is nice… and I paid $1200 for my ticket!
We are part parent. We genuinely care about our patients, but nurses end up becoming part parent. Wash your hands, eat all your food, take your medicine… I can tell you something for nothing, the Starbucks barista doesn’t care if I take my Metformin…
We are educators. We are constantly teaching, with the hopes that if people know better, they’ll do better. The mechanic that replaces my tires is charging me an arm and a leg and I leave with new tires, but they’re not mentioning what I need to do to maintain the life of my tires (or vehicle!).
We are like attorneys. We are like feisty little pistols. If we think someone is getting the wrong end of the deal, we will argue on their behalf.
We have to constantly assess situations. Every room we walk into, every patient we see, we are assessing, and assessing, and then reassessing. If we walk into a room, we’re noticing that our patient needs another IV bag. Oh, their clock is wrong, I need to put in a work order. Speaking of time, it’s time for their scheduled medication. Are they itching their IV site? I better look to make sure it’s not infiltrated. Is their partner pissed off in the corner? I’ll reassess that when I come back with the meds. Let me pick up this dirty towel on my way out…
What we do in our free time can affect our career. In most other professions, you can get in trouble on some degree for things you do outside the workplace. But healthcare professionals can lose their license, and in some cases, go to jail. It’s a heavy weight to carry. In addition, because patient satisfaction has become such a focus, healthcare professionals also have to watch what they say and where they say it. We’re always on stage.