Life, Work Stuff

My Days as a Healthcare Worker are Numbered

Well. It has begun. The threat to fire people if they don’t get the jab. I think this might be the beginning of the end for me.

A hospital in Houston Texas has made a line in the sand – get the jab on or before June 7th or lose your job. The article states that 4 out of 5 employees have gotten the jab and “One hospital administrator said that getting vaccinated is a part of the sacred oath healthcare to do everything possible to keep patients safe and healthy.”

On one hand, I totally get that. You don’t want to inadvertently make someone in the hospital even more sick by introducing a virus to an already compromised immune system. Also:

“As the first rule of the Hippocratic Oath is: do no harm, vaccine safety must be guaranteed. That has not yet happened. More studies of the vaccine’s safety and efficacy should be conducted and published and more transparency about possible risks provided to the public before Americans enter the largest experimental medication program in our history.” Source

But on the other hand, I have a lot of questions. And the fact that we rolled this out, so quickly, with no trials, under Emergency Use for a disease that has a 99.5% recovery rate for a person of my age, seems … excessive.

I’m not willing to be a human Guinea pig. I would prefer to wait and see what the long-term repercussions will be, if any, and would like to see some successful trials first before considering the “vaccine.” In addition, I’m not totally comfortable with the mRNA factor of this “vaccine” and the fact that it contains little to no dead Coronavirus is enough for me to say, “No thanks.”

If you don’t know a lot about the experimental injectable, and why would you? The media continues to do a bang-up job of keeping information from the public, I encourage you to read the white paper on experimental vaccines for COVID-19 published by the American Frontline Doctors. It has a lot of interesting, and informative, information about this injectable that everyone has a right know. It’s not called “informed consent” for nothing, folks.

From the American Frontline Doctors’ website:

“There have been many post-vaccination questions. We will keep adding Q/A to this list. The fundamental problem with releasing medications that have not been fully researched is we don’t know what we don’t know. AFLDS is highly concerned about what we don’t know!” Source

And that’s my biggest hesitation – WE SIMPLY DON’T KNOW ENOUGH ABOUT THIS TO ENCOURAGE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE TO GET IT.

Why are people like me being demonized simply because we have questions??

My being against this experimental injectable does not mean I’m an anti-vaxxer – in fact, I daresay MOST people who are refusing to take the jab are not anti-vaxxers, we, – I – am simply asking for more information and for the vaccine to be run through it’s normal paces and treated as every other vaccine that is out there and approved by the FDA. I am all for vaccines for polio, small pox, measles, etc., overall Those diseases are way more serious than COVID, at least according to research and statistics at the time of this writing, and it makes sense to stop those more serious diseases in their tracks. But this virus, though deadly to some, overall, is not as deadly to all.

And if I’ve learned anything at all in healthcare – there is no one size fits all answer when it comes to people’s health. Healthcare is a pretty shade of grey – it’s not black and white.

I am not criticizing people who have gotten the jab. I am not trying to scare people who have gotten the jab – you have made the decision that you think is right for you and your family. Awesome. That’s how it should be. I respect your decision – please respect mine.

And if this issue stopped there, you wouldn’t be reading this post right now. But, if you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, I don’t tend to go quietly into the night on stuff that I’m passionate about.

I respect people’s rights to make their own decisions and live their best lives. I may not always agree with people’s decisions but who cares, I’m nobody. Ultimately, it’s none of my business what you do in your life – your decision, your consequence.

However –

Once you take my right to choose away, IT’S ON LIKE DONKEY KONG. And that’s how I feel about this whole vaccine passport and mandatory vaccines at work issue.

When you force people to do what you want and if they don’t you will penalize them in some way, that’s called coercion.

And I don’t respond well to this type of bullying.

Also, what happened to “my body, my choice?” Where are all the pro-lifers out there? Why aren’t they throwing a fit because the government is threatening lifestyle choices, (no cruises, no sporting events, no concerts – no job), unless you take the jab? So, it’s only my body, my choice under certain circumstances? That doesn’t make sense. You can’t pick and choose your definitions.

At least, you shouldn’t be able to – though to be fair, people do it all the time.

At this point in time, the hospital where I work put out a statistic that 56% of employees at my hospital have gotten the jab. I’m not too worried right now, however, if that percentage gets into the 80% range, I will start sweating. Because right now, there are too many employees that haven’t been vaccinated and don’t want to take the chance they could potentially lose them. They can’t afford to lose 40% of their staff, assuming most of the unvaccinated quit. But if that percentage of employees that get vaccinated gets to be 80% or above? Then my employer has more leverage.

Another factor in my favor – there is a pretty severe shortage of medical personnel out there. More and more people are NOT choosing to go into healthcare so the supply is low but the demand continues to go up, so I’m hoping that is another factor that will discourage my employer from issuing a “get the injectable or else” threat.

So what are my plans if/when we reach that point?

*sigh*

Depends. If it gets super nasty and I have very little choices, Kevin and I have talked about consulting a lawyer to find out what my rights are. The American Frontline doctors has a link on their site that will pair me up with a local lawyer for a small fee and we might start there. I can’t really fight this until I find out what my legal rights are.

And maybe I won’t really have any – especially since I work in healthcare and the rules are a bit different given the nature of the “business.” And if that’s the case, then so be it, I guess I won’t be a healthcare worker any longer. For if it comes down to either being coerced into the getting the jab to keep my job or having to quit in order to protect my body from God knows what, then I guess I’ll have to quit.

I don’t want to. I really enjoy my job and I feel I’m quite good at my job, and I wouldn’t draw that line in the sand solely due to principal, though that would be a big part of my decision, but largely because I don’t want to play Russian Roulette with my body. Sure. I could get the jab and it’s highly likely that I will be just fine, but considering all we DON’T know, no one can say that with 100% certainty and the fact that the disease has such a high recovery rate, I would prefer to take my chances on suffering through the disease and taking medications that we KNOW help the symptoms of the disease than stick my arm out for a technology that hasn’t been tested and “experts” really don’t know a lot about.

Not to mention, assuming life will go back to normal. Which I know is a big reason a lot of people are getting the “vaccine.” Not because people believe it in it or are scared of the disease but simply because they want life to get back to normal. And I get that. I want to burn these damn masks and be able to freely go where I want to go without people giving me the evil eye or work on the assumption that if they get too close to me they might die.

But life is NOT getting back to normal. We still have these stupid masks mandates, we still have to social distance, we’re still not allowed to do much outside of our jobs so … even if I was absolutely okay with getting the jab, got it and life remained the same, WHAT’S THE POINT?

Anyway. I’m nervous. I feel like this might be the beginning of the end of my healthcare chapter and I’m mentally preparing myself to make changes – the only question is when? I HOPE it doesn’t happen for quite a few years, I was HOPING we wouldn’t have to address this issue for quite a few years, but when I saw that article about the Houston hospital, I really think my days are numbered. It’s too bad I’m not closer to retirement age, I would just retire early, but I’m not there yet. I still have about ten years left before that makes financial sense.

*sigh*

Who knows what is going to happen. For now, I’m just taking one day at a time because really, what else can we do??

At the Moment, Life, Work Stuff

Punching Life in the Face: March 6th Life Update

(Tell me you don’t feel stronger looking at this graphic. Also, yes, I realize this is a bit aggressive but you know what? Life needs a punch in the face right now. I’m tired and just want to get back to normal).

Work has been crazy. Honestly, when is work NOT crazy.

I’ve been with this neurosurgery clinic for almost ten years – it will be ten years this September. TEN YEARS! This is crazy to me because I’ve ONLY ever been with a job for seven years: Seven years at fast food – seven years at banking – seven years at retail, heck, I’m pretty sure I was a stay-at-home mom for seven years.

I have a seven year itch, apparently. Actually, I’ve only had previous cars for seven years. (With the exception of my Vibe – I LOVED that car – had that for ten years). Apparently, there is something about me and putting up with something for seven years before I’m ready to move on or so sick of it I can’t stand it anymore.

And I won’t sugar coat it and say I’m not sick of this job – I am – THOROUGHLY. And yes, I could get another job, and I may still try and get another job, but there are two very big deterrents for me:

  1. My family is on my health insurance. Since Kevin is self-employed and purchasing insurance going that route is ASTRONOMICAL,  I got a job, (which I would have anyway – I can’t stay home – it’s just not in me). And for a while, our boys were on my insurance because we were those parents who allowed our kids to stay on my insurance until they turned 26. (Which I’m not sure was a good thing or not, to be honest). But now that Brandon, our youngest, is turning 26 this year (OUR BABY!) and will be off my insurance soon, it will only be me and Kevin. I’m looking forward to that because it will mean I get a bit more of my paycheck back. Yes, Kevin and I still need insurance, but it doesn’t seem AS required now, if that makes sense. Kevin is nearly retirement age (he’s planning on retiring in TWO years – what?!?) and he’ll be eligible for Medicare, if it still exists in two years the way we’re going, which means I’ll be free to do whatever I want with my job. So … I have a few thoughts. I’m throwing around a lot of options. I like options.
  2. But let’s be real – I’m also getting older and though there are some employers that don’t see older people as a liability and appreciate the life experience and maturity (and dare I say, work ethic) to a new job, it IS harder to get a job when you’re older. And do I honestly want to start over, from scratch, at a new place at my age? Not really.

But I’m not counting it out. I’m bored. I’m burned out. And I’m fed up.

Which leads me to the reason behind bringing this up.

Our clinic has been through some ROUGH patches these past ten years. We moved from cozy, (i.e. old and crappy) building to the hospital campus. We were no longer just “that neurosurgery group down the road” but now we were under scrutiny – we couldn’t do as much now that the hospital administration were watching this. Now, I’m not implying that we did anything wrong, or were breaking any rules at our old clinic, but it was nice not to be micro-managed like we are now. We miss that freedom.

Then we converted our old system to the hospital system. That took countless hours. But we made it fun, staying after hours, (wracking up the overtime), and jamming to music and eating pizza. But it was tough. Getting used to a new system. It wasn’t as hard on us, the employees, but it was torture for our doctors because they were completely lost for a while.

Then, me personally, I went through a HELLISH two years with a nurse from Hell which affected my health so much I ended up in the ER, TWICE, because I thought I was having a heart attack, turned out to be panic attacks, and I feel like that time period has permanently damaged my mental health – I still suffer from anxiety attacks from time-to-time.

We’ve endured painful staff changes. Crazy patients. Just the normal stuff that a group of people who see each other day-in-day-out experience when you’re around them for 40 plus hours a week.

But this. THIS has been rough. We’ve always been micro-managed. It’s always been a problem, but people have bitched, tried to make changes, were ignored and finally apathetic about trying to make things better. We settled for mediocre. Our turn over has been terrible. We just can’t keep people. Granted, the pay is not great, it really isn’t. I could make more working at Wal-Mart than I make right now, but that has only been a small factor in the overall dissatisfaction people feel with our management.

And then COVID hit. And the stress and craziness from that was enough to tip the scales and now, we’re a sinking ship.

We’re down five nurses, three MA’s, and one medical secretary. We are working with a skeleton crew and it’s putting tremendous stress on the employees left standing. Neurosurgery is not easy. There is A LOT to it. There are a lot of moving parts. You have to be a MASTER at multi-tasking for this job. It’s not preferred, it’s REQUIRED. And I feel like a lot of people, especially our young people today, are not equipped, nor are willing to try, to handle the art of working hard.

And if that’s not bad enough, our management continues to micro-manage and continue policies and procedures that (sort of) worked at our old clinic, seven years ago.

People are cracking and terribly unhappy.

Including me.

So. I took the bull by the horns and went to my director. The head honcho. My boss’s boss. And it went well. I wasn’t telling him anything he didn’t already know, he wasn’t surprised, but I felt HEARD. And that’s all I ever really want. That, and take my suggestions seriously and let’s either try my suggestion, or a hybrid of my suggestion, and see if things get better.

Is that too much to ask?

Apparently. For you see, it’s not all about me. Sometimes, I wish it were, it would make life easier, (for me), but I have seven other MA’s to navigate through. And some of these MA’s are lazy, incompetent, or just flat out jealous.

I’m not sure what to do about that; I can’t do anything about that. But I can control what I do and my input and if these other MA’s don’t want to get on board, or don’t have suggestions of their own, then shut up and get out of the way.

I know that sounds harsh, and I don’t mean it to, but I get to the point where either offer some inputs or ideas or stop bitching. I’m done with the bitching and no progress. It’s toxic. And if these ideas are agreed upon and you’re resentful that you have to do more than pull your weight for a short period of time until we solve these problems, get over it.

Do you want progress, or don’t you? And it won’t be forever.

Anyway, I presented my training proposal to the meeting on Friday and it was met with silence. I get the impression the others weren’t really going for it but was it because they didn’t like the proposal itself or that I presented it and not them? At this point, I don’t care. We’ll have another meeting next week and I’m going to call them out on it – “hey, so-and-so, did you have any thoughts on this? What are your ideas?” Because again, if you don’t have anything to say or don’t offer any input of your own, then we’re moving forward with the plan. I had a short meeting, mano-e-mano with my immediate supervisor and she asked my thoughts on how I thought the meeting went. I was honest with her. I felt there was some resistance and she is going to bring it up in the meeting next week. We’re ALL sick of hearing, “this is not working and I’m sick of it,” and “but I don’t want to be the one who has to change her routine in order to fix it.” No. F that. Either get on this ship or jump overboard – Your dead weight is dragging me down and I’m a survivor.

In the meantime, I volunteered to revamp our training manual because it’s disorganized and terribly outdated. I did this for two reason:

  1. I LOVE that crap. I love putting stuff like that together. It’s fun, challenging and rewarding to see a fat book of MY stuff.
  2. I can use it for my portfolio if I finally chuck this job and look elsewhere.

I’ll keep ya’ll updated.

 

I don’t know if you know this about us, but we’re HUGE cruisers. We love to go on cruises. We plan a trip every year and every year, it gives me a light at the end of the hum-drum of working, home, sleeping, working, home, sleeping routine tunnel. It makes working so hard worth it – sort of. So now that COVID has become this monster that the world made it out to be, it doesn’t look like cruising is going to be on our schedules any time soon. I mean, sure we COULD go cruising, there are some options out there, but with caveats – you must get tested and/or you must produce your papers, erhm, documents, to show you’ve had the vaccine.

Neither of which Kevin nor I are willing to do now, or ever. (And we hope we’re not FORCED to get it – 666, anyone?)

But we would still like to get away, do something fun. LIVE LIFE FULLY. Especially while we’re still young enough to physically enjoy it.

We’ve gone camping as a family. Our first taste of camping was in a pop-up camper. We took the camper to Indiana for a Bible Camp when Brandon was just a baby. I remember heating up his formula in the camper. I also remember it raining cats and dogs when we were there and I was literally pushing a double stroller through ankle deep mud. I did NOT enjoy that. We then rented an RV the next year and went to the same Bible Camp – that was better, but still a lot of work. So the boys grew up camping. We didn’t go very often, but we went enough that they remember quite a few trips. We sold the pop-up and bought a hybrid – a hard camper shell with two fold-out tent beds. It was a comfortable camper but it leaked and it was a lot of work constantly water-proofing the tents. We finally sold it and thought our camping days were over.

Until COVID hit. And severely limited our cruising options.

We started throwing camper ideas around again. We wanted a traditional camper but we didn’t want to pay very much money. All I knew, I didn’t want the thing to leak. That was, and has been, my number one requirement. However, traditionally, RV’s leak. And they end up in the shop more often than not for various issues. And the RV’s we shopped around for online showed signs of water leaks. (The walls were “rippled” indicating they had leaked at some point). And we weren’t about to spend thousands of dollars on something that would bring nothing but grief or end up being a money pit.

Until … we thought about buying a cargo trailer. We’ve seen lots of videos about people who bought cargo trailers and converted them into a living space. Our reasons were:

  1. They are MUCH cheaper than a traditional RV
  2. They are made MUCH more study and will not leak.
  3. They will LAST much, much longer than a traditional RV
  4. Kevin can use it as a traditional trailer if he needs to buy large items for his thrift shop booth.

I was against the idea at first, not because I thought it was a bad idea, but because I knew it would be a MASSIVE project for Kevin to take on. I’ll be honest with you, and I was honest with him, I’m USELESS when it comes to building things. I knew I would be zero help. BUT, he has LeRoy and he would be a big help, so there’s that. However, Kevin loves a challenge and he’s really excited about the idea so ….

… we bought a cargo trailer.

It’s 20 feet long and seven feet high. It has a ramp back door, which is a bit disappointing as I we would have preferred double doors, but Kevin wants to put a door into the ramp door so if we need to get into it, we don’t have to lower the entire ramp, we can just open the door.

We have a LOT of plans for this trailer. Kevin has already put insulation into the ceiling and is now working on putting some thingies on the ceiling so we can put up nice looking shiplap, or… I don’t know guys, I’m so stupid when it comes to this stuff, I’ll have to get more information from Kevin, but he’s planning on insulating the walls next. He will also plan out the plumbing and the electrical as well. In essence, this is our plan:

  • When you walk in, there will be a closet where we put our shoes and clothes.
  • A “working” table to work on our laptops.
  • A small kitchen with a dorm-size fridge and a microwave on top. No oven – we might use a countertop conduction oven, maybe, but mostly a grill we use outside.
  • A double bed at the back
  • A fold down table to eat on
  • Two stools that can double as additional storage and a dirty clothes hamper
  • Drawers under the bed (we are going to elevate the bed) for more storage
  • A small walled in area in back for a toilet and cabinet (for those late-night pees)
  • A garage in the VERY back, just inside the ramp door and under the bed.

I know it’s hard to picture, but if you watch this video, it will sort of make sense. I would like ours to be quite similar to their layout, minus the shower and toilet in the front.

We plan on putting a window in the door (maybe a whole new door, we’re still talking about that), and three windows. But Kevin doesn’t want to put the windows in until we settle on a final layout.

Unfortunately, it won’t be big enough if the boys want to come along, but they are young men now, I don’t think they would really be interested in camping with us anyway.

I’m SO EXCITED about this new chapter in our lives. We are going to take this thing everywhere. Kevin is really pleased with how easy it pulls, too. He has a Ford F250 truck and it will easily pull the trailer. In addition, it’s not so wide that he has trouble seeing around it when he drives, so he’s pretty happy about that.

I’ll try and remember to keep you guys updated on this latest project. I can’t WAIT to go shopping for the stuff inside!!

 

Patreon

I’m making an account. *squeal*

I have NO IDEA what I’m doing but MAN, am I having fun with it.

There’s a YouTuber I follow and really enjoy her content and I’m going to join her Patreon for two reasons: 1. To support her and 2. to see how the heck it works on the inside.

I plan on offering three tiers. I’m also working on teaching myself, and setting up, a Discord server. I thought it would be fun to host writing sprints and maybe a virtual book club. I think I’m going to limit my top tier to 20 people, just so it won’t be so big we can’t really get to know one another. Ideally, I’d like the top tier to be writers who are interested in potentially starting a writing club – where we critique each other’s work and/or be beta readers.

I have NO idea if anyone would be interested in joining my little community, but I’m super excited to try it.

Here’s a sneak peek of what I have so far:

I’d like to get it up and running soon as the April Camp Nanowrimo is coming up fast! Ultimately, I want to create a positive and fun writing community. Interested? Stay tuned!

Thanks for reading!

Annoyances, Work Stuff

Things That Annoy Me #2

( I seriously can’t stop laughing at this little girl’s expression!!)

“Good morning. Welcome to our team. I expect you to work faster than your peers, update every little detail if older than six months, answer all calls live NO MATTER WHAT and you must have all rooms full so that our doctor is NEVER idle. You have to run everything through me – you are not allowed to think for yourself. I don’t trust you and no one is as smart as I am. You are not allowed to put orders in, even though your peers are allowed to. You can not schedule a patient unless you run it by me, even though your peers are allowed to. And by the way, I need you to be flexible because the way we do things on this team changes DAILY. Which means, the way you did it yesterday? Doesn’t apply to how we do it today. Why are you frowning? Aren’t you happy? I don’t understand why you’re miserable. Why is this job affecting your health? We’re the best team on this floor! We run efficiently and we do everything right! In fact, every team needs to run exactly like us because we’re PERFECT.”

I’m paraphrasing, of course. But this is an example of what our assistant manager thinks and it’s frustrating, unrealistic and insulting to insinuate we don’t know what we’re doing. Can we improve? Of course. But to imply that what we’ve been doing, what we have been doing for YEARS, is not correct, well, let’s just say insinuating this to the entire clinic was enough to nearly cause mutiny.

Here are some signs you’re being micro-managed: (Source)

  1. They avoid delegation. Since micromanagers can’t believe anyone else will do a decent job, the only solution is… to do everything themselves. While they might get the results they want at first, this can’t possibly last. Eventually, they’ll come to discover that there are only 24 hours in a day. Without assigning tasks to others with specialized skills, supervisors will inevitably take on work that they aren’t as qualified to produce. If your boss is a micromanager, they might also think it’s faster to revise your work than to give you feedback on what could be improved.

Oh my gosh, YESSSS. This is EXACTLY what is happening right now.

2. You’re not allowed to make decisions. If even the smallest tasks require sign off from your supervisor, it could be a red flag

3. They complain constantly. The funny thing about mistakes is, if they’re all you look for, they’re all you’ll find. A boss that doesn’t trust their employees is always going to look for evidence that validates their paranoia. And they’re going to find it, even if it’s a typo in a calendar reminder you only sent to yourself. This type of manager can find fault in anything, no matter how inconsequential. While they might tell themselves that they are pushing for excellence, they are only sapping the motivation of their staff.

Oh my gosh, YESSSS.

4. They won’t pass on their skills or knowledge. It’s inspiring to work for a boss that you feel you can learn from. Supervisors can act as role models for junior employees who are starting their careers. For a fresh new employee, finding out that your boss has little interest in mentoring you can be a crushing disappointment. To these micromanagers, knowledge is currency. If they share that knowledge, they’re depleting their own value.

5. Feedback falls on deaf ears. While a normal boss-to-employee relationship should have feedback flow in both directions, a micromanager is more interested in a one-way conversation. Because they’ve put themselves under enormous pressure, they are more irritable and explosive when faced with criticism. They might respond to your critique with some variation of, “Well, that’s just how things work here.” Micromanagers aren’t interested in what they can do to improve–they only look for the weakness in others.

These issues are EXACTLY what we’re dealing with at work right now.

As with any job, you have your ups and downs, your hills and valleys. There are times things are going great and there are times things are definitely NOT great. I’ve been with my current employer for almost ten years – it will be ten years this coming September – and I can count on one hand the number of ups we’ve had. And by this I mean, everything is going great, we’re fully staffed, we’re all getting along, etc. On. One. Hand. All other times, there is some drama, people are quitting, a process is not working, or management is micro-managing us. In fact, I feel like we’re micro-managed, a lot.

I get why this happens. Medical assistants work under the doctor’s license – everything we do is on behalf of our doctor so any mistakes we make the doctor could potentially be responsible. It’s a big deal and shouldn’t be taken lightly. However, when you work for a management team that wants everything run through them, you can’t do anything without running it by them first, it’s suffocating.

I read somewhere that micro-managing is the number one reason why people leave their jobs. When a person is not given an opportunity to prove his/her worth, to live up to his/her potential, it’s suffocating. Our clinic right now, is definitely at an all-time low. People are dropping like flies and we all know what the problem is, but no one is willing to do anything about it. It’s like we’re all on the Titanic and we’ve hit an iceberg – now the question is – do we find a way to save ourselves or do we just sit back and wait for it to sink?

I’d like to figure out a way to save us, thank you very much.

It’s funny. I never really wanted a career in medical, I just sort of fell into it. But now that I’m here, (and I really do like the work I do and I feel like I’m good at my job), I just can’t sit back and watch our ship sink.

I need a plan. I need to convey my concerns, along with examples AND potential solutions and present them to my director. He’s the head honcho. The big cheese. The man with a plan. (I hope). I had a long talk with my nurse today about these problems and how to approach them and she gave me some really good advice. Now I just need to compile these thoughts into a nice, neat outline and present it to my director in my best “professional” voice.

Enough with the micro-managing. It’s time to take a stand and get off this hamster wheel. It’s insanity to continue to do the same things over and over again and expect a different outcome. We all agree there is a problem, now we need to get together and come up with a better plan, try different solutions. One is bound to stick, right?

Will they listen to me? Who knows. But if this ship sinks, at least I will know that I did all I could do on my end.

Don’t micro-manage me, it brings out my aggressive side. And let me tell ya, folks, it ain’t pretty.

Work Stuff

Welcome to My Work Office

Happy Friday!

Today, in the office, my office, not the TV show, I am furiously calling patients to prepare them for Monday’s clinic, making sure charts are compiled and ready for my doctor on Monday, returning phone calls and working flags (messages) from various sources from the week. I’d like to say Fridays are our quiet day, but alas, they haven’t been lately. I don’t know if that’s because people are freaked out because our office will be closed for two days and OMG, I NEED TO CALL MY NEUROSURGEON’S OFFICE, or if it’s just a coincidence, but I can assure you, there is no sitting around waiting for the phones to ring.

Actually, we don’t have a dedicated person answering our phones. We don’t have a receptionist whose sole job is to wait for patients to call. I wish we did. We do have a secretary, and she does answer our calls on clinic days, but we share her with another doctor so we only really get to use her on clinic days, off clinic days, it’s up to me. Patients don’t understand that. And I don’t blame them, that’s just the way our office is set up. The MA’s do the bulk of phone work. We triage the calls and the nurse returns calls she needs to, post op questions, medication questions, surgery questions, I do the rest.

Anyway. I thought you might be interested in where I hang out 40 + hours per week. I purposefully stayed late one night when everyone left so I could take this video. I had to film it several times because I would come across patient information and of course, we can’t have patient information displayed anywhere. I apologize for the quick turns but I was nervous someone would see me and it wasn’t so much I was filming that made me nervous but my “explanation.”

“Um, oh, hi. Yeah. I’m just filming for my blog.” *embarrassed smile*

Just feels weird.

Thanks for watching!

 

Work Stuff

The One Where I Embarrassed Myself in Front of a Patient

Did I ever tell you about the time I made a complete fool out of myself at work? In front of a patient?

I mean, it pretty much happens on a daily basis though not necessarily in front of a patient. I either say something stupid or I trip over my feet.

Does anyone else trip over their own feet? No? Just me?

Well, I AM old, cut me some slack. lol

The floors in our office are wood, though I think it’s more like fake wood, to be honest. You know the kind where it sort of snaps together? I could be wrong, but I think that’s more like the wood we have at work. Not that that matters, the floors don’t have parts coming up where it becomes a tripping hazard or anything. No, when I trip, I trip over my own two left feet.

Maybe that’s part of my problem, I have two left feet. (I’m kidding, though I feel like I have two left feet most times).

No. My problem is, I simply don’t pick my feet up when I walk. I sort of … shuffle. I have to consciously think about picking my feet up whenever I walk. And I get pretty nervous when people are walking behind me and I have to mutter under my breath, “don’t trip, don’t trip, for the love of God, don’t trip.”

OH – that reminds me of another time I embarrassed myself! I’ll save that story for another time.

Anyway. I wouldn’t say I have drop foot but Kevin tells me I do sort of drag my right leg and I develop a limp, especially when I’m really tired.

I feel like I’ve had this problem for years. My whole life, actually. I’ve always had something weird going on with my legs. I remember having to wear braces on my legs when I was little – I think I was pigeon toed? (Mom?) But I don’t think I had to wear the braces for very long, at least, I don’t remember having to wear them for very long, or it didn’t feel very long.

Remember, I’m old – that was a LOOOOONG time ago. lol

But I’m grateful for those braces because I walk straight now so they must have done some good. I’m digressing. (This is why I never really have a hard time blogging, because once I get going I just sort of keep ………………………………………………………………………… going).

Anyway. (Let’s see how many times I can say that in this post). Because I don’t fully pick my feet up when I walk, I am constantly tripping over myself. It’s like the toe of my right foot doesn’t quite lift off the floor, then hits the floor and the rubber on the sole of my sneaker adheres to the floor and stops me in my tracks so that I’m constantly stumbling forward. I do this about ten times a day and it’s always in front of someone, which is so embarrassing. I’ve caught some other people doing it too so it’s not all me. When you look at our floors at work, they are a bit warped.

But I digress, that’s not my embarrassing story.

(Focus Karen)

We have these chairs at work … I mean, what workplace doesn’t have chairs, duh, bear with me, but they have high backs and curved seats. Meaning, the sides of the chair are thick enough to grab and they sort of bend upwards. For some, this may be comfortable but for me and my child-bearing hips (i.e. big butt), it puts a strain on my back and by the end of the day, my back KILLS me. So, I avoid sitting in the chairs for that precise reason. Instead, I sit on stools. The same kind you see in exam rooms. Where the seat is juuuuuuust big enough to accommodate your butt. But I like them. They are comfortable (probably because there is nothing holding my side butt cheeks from overflowing) and it forces me to sit up straight and not slouch. (Though let’s be honest, I still slouch).

Side note: Have you ever sat on one of those fitness balls? I work with a nurse that has a big fitness ball in her office and she swears by it. I could never use a fitness ball to sit on all the time. I would want to bounce around like a child and maybe throw it at someone because I’m annoying like that.

(Focus Karen)

So, I sit on exam stools all the time. In fact, I have one stool I wheel around with me at all times – from my office to my desk I use on clinic days and back to my office, it’s like a puppy. (If that makes sense). The seat is nearly all black now and looks disgusting but that’s why I continue to use it because I figure I’ve ruined a perfectly good stool with my cheap black scrubs, there’s no sense in ruining any more.

My point being, I’m USED to sitting on exam stools. Keep that in mind.

Well. One day, back in the days when we actually saw patients in the clinic, pre-COVID and pre-Telemedicine days (oh how I long for the good-ole days of physically rooming patients), I showed a patient and his spouse back to a room. We have these little tables that we can adjust up/down that we put our laptops on whenever we show a patient back to an exam room and then we sit on the stool and type on our laptops as we’re interviewing the patient.

The patient and spouse take their seats, I pull the table around, put my laptop on it and pull the stool toward me. I’m talking to the patients, probably cracking a joke because for some reason, patients find me hilarious (they also feel like they need to tell me their life stories – I have one of those faces, I guess) and I’m in the process of sitting on the stool, not paying attention when it happens.

My butt cheek catches just the edge of the stool, it rolls away from me, hits the wall with a BANG, I lose my balance and fall flat on my ass, bumping into the trash can which makes a loud THUMP as it hits the wall.

In other words, I made a lot of NOISE when I fell. The patient and his spouse just look at me in horror. Their mouths gape open and I feel the tips of my ears starting to burn and I know my ears are going to be bright red in about five seconds. (They do that when I’m embarrassed, pissed or dehydrated – in other words, pretty much all the time).

In those split seconds, I run my options through my head:

  1. I could make the situation worse by acting embarrassed thereby embarrassing the patient and his spouse even more
  2. I could leave the room and re-enter, in essence, start the whole damn thing over
  3. I could act like nothing happened and awkwardly get on my hands and knees and attempt to stand back up knowing full well I would look, and sound, like a fallen hippo or
  4. Laugh it off.

Can you guess which option I chose?

Yep, I laughed it off. I simply took their folder (because I kept hold of my pen and the folder as I fell – impressive, I know), leaned back against the wall and simply said, “I’m just going to finish the interview down here, if you guys don’t mind.”

They laughed, I laughed and I fully intended to continue my spiel from the floor but I made such a racket going down, my nurse comes barging into the room. “Hey! Everything ok in here? I heard a crash.”

Perfect, I thought to myself, she will distract the patient just long enough they won’t really pay attention to me as I huff and puff my way back to my feet.

After I got back onto my feet, grabbed FIRM hold of the slippery stool, sat my butt down and placed my hands on my laptop did I look at my nurse and say, “Everything is great. Why do you ask?”

She just shook her head and left the room.

The patients thought I was hilarious and couldn’t stop smiling the rest of my time with them. I’m pretty sure I could have passed my little incident off as if I did it on purpose if given more time.

Yes people, I’m THAT good.

Anyhoo. My coccyx (get your mind out of the gutter, that simply means tailbone) was pretty sore the rest of the day because I wacked it pretty hard but I survived. And now, I am SUPER careful whenever I pull my stool around and sit on it though I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I’ve had SEVERAL near misses since that day.

But no worries, I have a lot of padding back there, I’ll be fine.

Work Stuff

Navigating an Escape Room – Did We Do It?

Hint: see picture.

From left to right: Me, our medical secretary, our doctor, our nurse, our physician’s assistant.

We’ve been a team now for … nearly four years (?). We are a close-knit group and I’m very blessed to be a part of this group. It’s so rare to find people that you genuinely like, let alone want to stick around for that long together. We all recognize how blessed we are to have one another and we don’t take advantage of that. We celebrate our birthdays, medical secretary, nurses, physician assistant and medical assistant weeks together. We all know our roles on our team and we work well together. We just click.

I figure I have about ten more years before I retire. That will closely coincide with my doctor’s plans as well. He’s younger than me but being a surgeon is hard on your body so doctors typically retire younger than the rest of us mortals.

I know him pretty well and he has come to trust me. I’m very loyal to my doctor because he had my back when I was dealing with his nightmare nurse. And I stuck it out. I put up with her for two years and it got so bad it started affecting my physically and I ended up in the ER with what I thought was a heart attack. Thank God it was only anxiety. Something I never had before in my life before that nightmare on legs waltzed into my life. (And she was a legit nightmare – she was one of those people who loved being called a nurse but didn’t really want to be A nurse. Don’t get me started). And when I say loyal, I mean, he chose me over his nurse. I will forever feel grateful for that. I don’t know that anyone has ever really stuck up for me like that.

Telemedicine has been super hard on all of us. It’s completely reshaped who we are as medical professionals and in how we approach our processes. And Dr. M has seen how it has affected us, his team, and he wanted to show his appreciation by taking us out for Christmas.

Last Wednesday, we had a short clinic and after clinic, we all went to an Asian-inspired sandwich shop. We were all a little nervous to eat there because we didn’t understand half of what was on the menu but it was fun to try something different. I played it safe and stuck to good ole chicken but DAYUM, the chicken I had was delicious! It was heavy on the breading but it melted in my mouth and was so good!

He bought all of us presents. He gave me a foot massager. It’s not one of those with water but you stick your feet into the machine and it massages your feet. I haven’t tried it yet, but with my plans on getting back to walking, I’m looking forward to using it.

After our gift opening, we headed to the Escape Room. We checked in and Dr. M was kind enough to reserve the room so we wouldn’t have to worry about sharing it with strangers. He knew we would have much more fun if it was just the five of us. The name of our mystery to solve was “Missing Musician.”

Your mentor, and one of the world’s premier musicians, has gone missing.  On the precipice of releasing his masterpiece that would put his name with the great musicians of the past.  He’s always been a bit of a strange fellow, to have that kind of talent requires some level of insanity.  Over the past few months he’s become paranoid and reclusive and now he’s vanished with the only clue being a letter directing you to his study.

You decide to investigate but once in his study the door has shut and locked behind you.  Was there foul play involved or has he simply run off to never be heard from again?  It’s up to you to find out what happened to him and figure out how to get out of his study.

After going over the rules, they locked us in the room and we had one hour to try and figure out how to get out. There was a sofa, a cabinet with a box inside, pictures on the walls, something in the wall we had to open, sort of like a safe, a piano, and a bookcase. There was also a suitcase with three locks on it. The piano bench also had a lock. The piano cover had a lock on it and there were a few keypads around the room. In essence, we had to figure out codes and combinations to open the locks and punch into keypads. There was a large, flat screen TV on the wall and it all started with a short video explaining what happened to give us some context. If, after about ten minutes, we didn’t discover and solve the first puzzle, a clue would appear on the TV. We did not discover the first puzzle but we were able to figure it out after the clue was given. It all started with a cassette case in a box on the bookcase. On that cassette tape was the order in which we would find clues. That was hugely helpful but it was still very challenging.

I’ll be honest, we had a lot of clues. At one point, we found a key that opened a drawer in the wall which had another key and a flashlight/black light. We used that key to open another door which started a disco ball thingie on the coffee table turning and loud music to play. It also threw the room into a black light setting which allowed us to use the flashlight to illuminate clues on the walls. (I neglected to mention there was graffiti on the walls). After unlocking the padlock on the piano bench, we pulled out a series of music sheets that we then had to use on the piano to unlock another puzzle. It’s all very complicated and hard to explain, especially since the whole experience was a bit of a frenzied blur, but suffice it to say, I did little more than offer ideas now and again leaving it up to our nurse and physician’s assistant to solve the harder stuff.

Oh. There was one part where we had to place an aux cord into a power board using the clues we gleaned from the black light clues on the wall but for whatever reason it wouldn’t work. We KNEW we had it right but nothing happened. After about five minutes, one of the Escape Room workers popped his head in to see what was happening and he said they had had a power surge the night before and the board wasn’t working. Obviously, he gave us the next clue so we could move on and gave us extra time which was greatly appreciated.

The next to last clue was trying to figure out some hieroglyphics on some sheet music and once we figured it out, one of the pictures on the wall dropped scaring the beejeebus out of all us. All of us girls actually screamed and it was pretty funny. That was our jump scare, I suppose.

The last step was a series of levers that we had to either lift up or down, depending on the clues that we had and that gave us the combination to put into the keypad to unlock the door.

WE WON! We had six minutes to spare though to be fair, if we hadn’t been given extra time because of the malfunction it would have been SUPER close. But damn, it was fun. I think Dr. M had a lot of fun, too.

After we took our picture, we all got back into Dr. M’s truck (yes, he drove us all – how nice!) and headed back to the hospital. The day wasn’t quite over so me, our medical secretary and our nurse all went back inside to finish the day.

That is an odd feeling – to go out, have loads of fun and then immediately go back to work. lol

Anyway. I think it would be fun to do something like that with the family. Maybe I can talk them into doing something like that, we’ll see.

It was a great Christmas gift and we were able to forget, just for a time, the COVID nightmare for a little while. Though we all wore our masks the whole time so we couldn’t completely forget about it.

Have you ever done an escape room?

Work Stuff

Nursing Shortage – Bracing for Impact

Let’s talk about work –  bae-bee … (referencing this song)

I haven’t talked about work for a while so let’s bring you up-to-date on the madness that is my 40-plus hour work weeks ..

For those of you that don’t know, I’m a (reluctant) medical assistant. I say reluctant because I never, not once, as in, it never crossed my mind, had any desire to work in the medical field. I never had any aspirations to be a nurse or anything else inside the field but it just sort of happened and before long, I found myself eyeball deep in a “career” not-by-choice. If you’re interested in hearing/listening to how I stumbled into the medical field, you can click on these links: Podcast: Being a Medical AssistantI Got a Promotion! (Sort of)Accidental Health Care Career

But suffice it to say, I’m here and I’m giving my job 150% of myself. It’s exhausting, challenging and rewarding every day. I don’t see myself doing anything else (I have about ten years until I retire – but don’t quote me on that – you never know what life will throw at you), nor making an effort to be anything more than a medical assistant. (Again, don’t hold me to that).

This past year has been tough, I don’t have to tell you that. We’ve all had challenges but I’ll be honest, it’s been especially challenging for healthcare workers.

I have it easy, honestly. I work in an outpatient clinic for Neurosurgery. There are nine surgeons in my office and though I help wherever and whenever I’m needed, I work primarily for Dr. M. Dr. M’s team consists of him, his PA, his nurse, me and his medical secretary. And if you think that’s a lot of people surrounding one doctor, you would be right, but he needs all of us to handle the work load he alone generates.

He’s not special (though I think he’s pretty special – ha!), all of the doctors in our clinic have the same number of staff. Our jobs, broken down are as follows:

  • Dr. M evaluates patients in clinic and does surgery. (duh)
  • Physician’s Assistant (PA) or Nurse Practitioner (NP) compiles detailed information on patients in clinic and assists with surgeries.
  • Nurse sets up the surgeries and are available to patients after surgery to help manage post-op questions/pain and after care.
  • Medical Assistants (Me) set up his clinics (appointments, making sure patients have images and everything is ready for clinic) and clean up clinics, meaning patients are scheduled for testing and any follow up appointments.
  • Medical Secretaries help answer phones, request images from other facilities, fill out FMLA paperwork, etc.

These duties are simplified, of course, as we all have many other duties that we’re in charge of but you get the gist of what we do and what we’re responsible for.

We are a unique group. We’re not any more special than anyone else but I mean we’re unique in the way we’re set up when compared to other outpatient clinics.

Most clinics only have one nurse and the doctors have their own MA’s. Not very many clinics have both both a nurse and an MA for each doctor. Our clinic started out as an independent clinic from the hospital and that is how the doctors wanted it when they structured their practice. But then the hospital bought the practice and we integrated into the hospital structure and though the hospital wanted our clinic to get rid of the nurses (thereby saving them a ton of money), the doctors said no and kept their nurses.

I’m very thankful for that fact as again, I wouldn’t want to be my doctor’s sole “go to” clinic person and quite frankly, I don’t want that responsibility.

COVID changed the way we see patients. Our doctors never once even entertained the thought of offering Telemedicine visits. But then COVID hit and we were left with the challenge of how are we going to keep seeing patients, thereby keeping everyone employed and generating money for the hospital by continuing to do surgeries if we weren’t allowed to actually SEE anyone?

Enter, telemedicine.

To say it’s been a challenge, and continues to be a challenge, would be sugar coating it. I have grown to hate Telemedicine with a passion. At first, I loved it – I didn’t have to actually deal with patients in-person and it was a challenge. Now, I’m over the challenge and frustration and I’m MORE than ready to go back to in-person visits. But alas, my doctor is not ready for that and he continues to insist on only offering Telemedicine visits. So. I continue to grit my teeth and practice more patience that I ever thought I was capable of and somehow we get through the technical difficulties of Telemedicine.

There have been times, (and continue to be times), I just want to throw my headset down and walk away. Seriously. I can’t tell you the number of times I have allllllmost walked out. Screw this, I can make more money at Hobby Lobby and have a lot less stress. There have been times, (and continue to be times), that I want to throw my laptop through a window, but of course, I haven’t. I have stayed because ultimately I didn’t want to upset and disappoint my team. I’m quite attached to them and I genuinely like them. It’s a good thing too because honestly, and I’m being dead honest here, I would have left a long time ago if I wasn’t so attached to everyone.

We’re now to a point that I’ve gotten pretty good at Telemedicine visits. I have clawed my way through troubleshooting moments and I can pretty much talk a patient through anything. The only line I draw is when a patient tells me they don’t know how to access his/her email. If you don’t know how to access your email, I can’t help you. I’m done. My doctor continues to insist on Telemedicine visits and doesn’t want to see anyone in the office until the vaccine is being widely distributed to the general public. I can respect his decision but it doesn’t mean I have to like it. Luckily, or unluckily, due to the rising cases of the disease and the fact that we’ve had 150 patients with COVID in the hospital and a number of employees out because of being positive for COVID, it hasn’t been a hard sell at this point. However, there will come a time that selling Telemedicine to patients will become harder and harder. I don’t think Telemedicine will ever go away entirely, it’s really handy for patients who live hours away and it saves them a trip to town, but locals will not likely accept it as easily.

But I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. We’re not there yet.

My nurse and her entire family had COVID. She was out for three weeks. She was very sick for about two weeks of it and too weak to come to work the third week so she worked from home. That was a long three weeks for me and gave me a small taste of how my working life would be different if we didn’t have nurses.

I could handle it. It would take some (major) adjusting, but I could do it. I couldn’t do all of it, obviously, I’m not licensed and do not have the authority to give medical advice when it comes to medications but I could certainly put in meds in a patient’s chart with the PA’s guidance. And I could learn to put in surgery orders. But I wouldn’t have the knowledge to round or visit patients in their rooms nor the knowledge to give medical advice to patients with various medical issues. Not having a nurse could be done but thankfully, we don’t have to deal with that.

But with that said ….

We are about to be down five nurses. F.I.V.E. We currently have nine nurses, one for each surgeon, well, ideally we have nine nurses. We’ve been down two nurses for quite some time. Another one quit (being a clinic nurse is not for the faint of heart), another one is going PRN (which is Latin for “as needed”) to go to nurse practitioner school and another one is retiring.

Big deal, you’re thinking, just hire more nurses.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Except the big challenge is – we haven’t had any applications. NOT ONE. And the positions have been posted for MONTHS. In fact, when speaking to the charge nurse on the floor we send our patients to after surgery, she hasn’t had any applications, either.

There are simply no nurses to be had.

I don’t know if this means there is a nursing shortage overall, or if every available nurse out there is being utilized to take care of the influx of COVID patients.

Maybe both.

When speaking to my nurse about this, she poo-poos the notion that there might be a nursing shortage.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing site:

I think a lot of people who thought about going to nursing school has declined in recent years because of the threat of socialized medicine programs (which means less money and more work), the cost of schooling, which has skyrocketed in the past few years alone, and the fact that most people want a quick buck and don’t want to work for it and let’s face it, nursing is HARD.

So yes, I think the nursing shortage is going to be more keenly felt now more than ever – COVID just pushed it down the hill much sooner than anticipated.

Once again, screw you COVID.

All of this to say, we’re coming up on yet another hard curve in the working road. Hopefully, we can take the turn slow enough that we don’t skid off the side and careen down the cliff exploding at the bottom into a fiery ball of skin and bones.

How’s them visuals?

Our clinic is finally fully staffed with medical assistants. There for a while, we were down a few MA’s and we had to all work together to cover each other. But now, it’s the nurses’ turn to be short staffed and we’re going to all have to work together to help them out as much as we can. Each nurse is going to have to consistently cover two doctors and that is going to take a lot of patience and cooperation from us.

It’s so weird, because this situation used to be exactly opposite. We couldn’t find decent MA’s for YEARS. It wasn’t a field that people went into, let alone really knew about. And many people think you have to go to school to become an MA – not true. A lot of places will hire you and train you on the job – at least, it used to be like that. But now that more people are going into the field, employers might be a little more choosy on who they hire and NOT hire someone who hasn’t had any schooling.

Being a medical assistant isn’t hard, but you do have to have a lot of patience, superior multi-tasking, communication, and time management skills, If you’re not very good at juggling several balls in the air at the same time, being a medical assistant is not the job for you. I’m just keeping it real.

So. Once again, our clinic is getting ready to enter a challenging time. It’s rare to have a time period where everything is going great and we’re fully staffed before one domino falls over and before long, we’re scrambling to rebuild the entire thing. But I supposed that is the case for every industry in one form or another.

Anyway. All of this to say, that’s the biggest reason I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been busy working overtime and filling in for my nurse. But now that my nurse is back, the challenge has shifted and who knows how much I will be needed with the upcoming nursing shortage.

I guess, all we can do is live our lives one day at a time, right?

I can say this for our clinic though, we are a tough crowd. We have been through some CRAZY hard transitions over the years and most of us are still standing. Yes. We’ve lost a few people over the years but the majority of us have stayed.

That says a lot about us, I think.