If you ever see me write the word noted, or hear me say “noted,” – RUN.
When I took two weeks off in May, (yes, I took two consecutive weeks for the first time in my entire working life and it was WONDERFUL. And I will definitely be doing it again though I know it was hard on my co-workers it was great for mental health), I did a lot of soul searching.
I came to the conclusion that I care too much. It sounds great on the surface but it sucks the life right out of you.
Because you get worked up or upset over everything.
I have learned that is not a good thing. It means you’re worked up most of the time, and you’re tense, and it raises your blood pressure, and gives you headaches, and heartburn, and you go home just mentally wiped out.
I’m not going to do that anymore. It’s just not worth it. The job will continue whether I’m there or not. I will continue to give 150% but at the end of the day, does it really matter?
In fact, my 2019 mantra is “Pick my battles” and I have been.
I don’t sweat the small stuff anymore. Someone didn’t like my tone of voice? Ok.
Someone doesn’t appreciate my honest? Ok.
Management doesn’t want to hear my ideas on how to make a problem area better? Ok. (Their loss).
I. Just. Don’t. Care.
So “noted” is my standard answer. It means, I’m not going to argue with you because I don’t care enough to engage with you. I don’t care what you have to say because ultimately, it has zero impact.
Here are some examples of things recently that I’ve just shrugged my shoulders and moved on.
Patient and her husband came in the other day. She’s not doing well after surgery. She continues to have back/leg pain and though she is walking, she’s using a cane. Testing shows everything is normal from a technical standpoint. (So, it comes down to, lose weight and move more. Those are two things the patient rarely likes to hear).
She comes into the office with a serious ‘tude. First of all, she’s thirty minutes late and the last patient of the day. We are literally waiting on her. Which doesn’t happen often. People are complex and the number one reason doctors run behind. Because people talk too much, or their situation requires more explaining, or a patient is upset and needs a little extra TLC. Or the doctor gets called away to attend to a patient in the hospital. Waiting, unfortunately, is part of healthcare.
This patient argued with the registration people because she didn’t think she needed an xray prior. When she found out she did, she had to go through the process of having one. By the time the patient and her husband made it to our floor, I was literally standing outside the elevator waiting for them because now my doctor is waiting on them.
When they arrived on the floor the husband smirks and says, “Oh, are you waiting on us?”
I don’t play that game. I’m here to help you, not kiss your ass. So I say, “Yep. Let’s go.” There’s no small talk, there’s no sugar coating, it’s all business.
I get her weight and we get back to the room. The patient is actually … not pleasant but not that bad to talk to. I’ve dealt with a lot more hostility. The husband, however, was an ass wipe. He kept cutting the patient off to cross his arms, glare at me and say, “Yeah. She’s not getting any better and I’m not happy about this.”
I ignore him, because he’s not the patient, his attitude is not productive and I don’t give a shit if he’s pissed or not. I focus my attention on the patient to try and ferret out why she is continuing to hurt. She answers my questions and I allow her vent a bit.
Little known fact about medical assistants – we’re the first line of defense. Which means, we are the first people the patients see so we are often the people who the patients unload on. By the time the doctor gets into the room, they have typically run out of steam and can allow themselves to focus on the solution – in other words, my part of the process is to endure the bitch session.
I don’t mind, really. I’m quite used to it and sometimes, you just have to allow people to talk. Get it off their chests. And most of the time, they just want someone to HEAR them because most people nowadays don’t actually listen. And I can tell when someone just wants to bitch and someone just wants to tell his/her story. When it’s his/her story, I let them vent. When they are just bitching, I cut the conversation short.
However, this patient’s husband just kept on, “I’m not happy, I’m not happy … blahblahblah.” And I wanted to say, “well I’m not happy I have to sit here and listen to you bitch. Now shut up and allow the patient to talk.”
I get that seeing a loved one suffering and be in pain is a lot to process. It’s especially hard for men to see their women hurting because men, at the core, are fixers. And when their women are hurting and they can’t fix them, it really eats at them.
Again, I can see when that happens and I’m sympathetic. But when you are not the patient and you won’t shut up, I’m not quite as nice.
I usually just look at the ass wipe then pointedly look away from the ass wipe, I’ve “dismissed” them in a sense, and totally ignore them from that point on. This is about the patient, not you. Get over yourself.
Another situation – a potential patient reached out to us via the website and wanted to come in and see my doctor. She read about him online, saw he has good reviews and he specializes in the type of condition she has. The only problem is, she lives in Illinois. She also wanted an appointment with neurology as she’s unhappy with her neurologist in Illinois and asked if it would be possible to have an appointment with both my doctor and neurology the same day. So, emails were being tossed back and forth trying to work out how we could make this happen in one day for our potential patient. I suggested neurology be the first to schedule her as we have more flexibility than neurology – I’m the gatekeeper for his clinic schedule, I can make anything happen. (Not to toot my own horn, but it’s true). Our new patient department goes ahead and makes an appointment for the patient. This annoys me because again, neurology needs to start that ball rolling so you’ve gone ahead and done something I specifically asked you not to do. I respond to the email asking the question, “I thought we were going to wait for neurology to schedule an appointment first?” The girl who made the appointment wasn’t privy to the rest of the conversation and didn’t know the patient requested an appointment with neurology but proceeds to get defensive and tries to bait me by instant messaging me and emailing me. “She needed an appointment, I gave her an appointment. Why is this a problem?” (Long story short, neurology required a referral before they would make an appointment but my doctor agreed to see her).
My response to her increasingly aggressive attitude?
Little girl, you don’t know what you’re talking about, back off. It’s not important to you or your job function. Go away.
And she did. It really is more effective to just not respond sometimes. Here’s a mirror, argue with yourself because I have neither the energy nor the inclination to speak to you.
Here’s another example – the medical secretaries in our clinic are great. They really are. They are helpful and make our jobs easier. But let’s be completely honest, they could be busier, a lot busier. So when registration is short staffed and they don’t have anyone to man the podium (the podium is where the patient stops when he/she gets off the elevator and directs the patient to the correct waiting room), we have a resource that can be utilized.
Did tasking them with helping out at the podium go over very well? No. A few of them were upset that they were being asked to do something “outside their normal work duties.” Would it ultimately affect their workload or work day? No. We were asking for 30 minutes of their time.
My response to the bitching?
Now get your ass out there and take care of the patient?
See? Bitching really is a waste of energy people because ultimately, it doesn’t do any good.
My nurse asks how I can NOT be upset at things/people. I don’t know, what’s the alternative? Give myself an ulcer? Be forced to take high blood pressure medication because I’m always wound so tight? Take ten years off my life because I’m so stressed out all the time?
Nope. Not happening.
It’s. Just. A. Job.