Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Nurse Follies: The Medical Student

Normally, I don't mind medical students. They taste just like chicken!

Seriously, most seem eager to learn, like to ask lots of questions (which is only a problem when you are running down the hall to a code situation), and are pleasant. They know their place in the Hospital Food Chain(HFC)...somewhere below the lady who cleans the toilets and just above the evil troll who works in the parking garage tollbooth. They live their little med student lives forever shaking in fear of the doctors and residents who keep them under their thumbs. Normally, I feel sorry for them. Some seasoned nurses treat nursing students the same way...but much more sadistically. At least we are warned before the actual encounters.

What people fail to the med students is that they should fear the nurses with equal terror.

Case in point...

Curly (named changed to protect the unsuspecting dumbass) is going to Medical School. He also works part time as a lab tech in our hospital. This means he goes from floor to floor, collecting blood specimens. That's it. The lab tech's place in the HFC is only a little higher than that of the med student because they actually do more than take up oxygen. Curly comes to our floor to collect blood. He comes to the desk wanting to know which nurse has patient so-and-so. That nurse is busy, but I ask if I might be able to assist.

Curly: Do you know if this patient is going to get Heparin?
Me: No...why?
Curly: Because I drew this particular test.
Me: Do you need a different colored tube?
Curly: No, but if the patient is not getting Heparin, I don't know why I need to run this test.
Me: (scratching head) If we need more tests, we can just add it to specimen in lab, right?
Curly: (exasperated) Well, I just don't see why they want this test if the patient is on heparin. I don't know why I'm drawing it.
Me: (getting annoyed...it's too early in the morning for this crap) You drew it because the doctors wanted it drawn. What difference does it make to you as to why they want it?
Curly: But he's not getting heparin. I should talk to his nurse because you don't seem to know what going on.

Curly finds the nurse, and he proceded to grill her, and she curtly tells him that the patient is going for a procedure, and that is all he needs to know. I'm still standing at the desk turning a bright shade of purple, my mind reeling in ways that I am going to snatch every curly hair off his head.

Curly makes for the door, but not before I announce, loudly, "It doesn't matter if the doctors wanted a pregnancy test on that man. The lab tech DRAWS the lab. It is the nurse's job to question it."


The rest of the nurses agree that this kid is going to be a problem when they give him his long coat and turn him lose on the floor. If he is a lab-tech-medical-student, already second-guessing the care that the more experienced staff is providing him, he is going to be a little monster when he's a resident.

And the nurses will be waiting. Apparently, no one has told him what evil little bitches we can be when pissed off. Maybe no one should warn him. Maybe he should be totally oblivious until that day he has to take call for one of my patients, and I call his ass every 10 minutes for every dumb little thing.

One of the few perks of my job...


cheryl said...

that's slimey! chill out, and break out of the absurdity of what you may call the hospital food chain, and your world could be a much better place!

Heather said...

My world is a good place, especially since I know my place in it.

Everyone should as well...


Annie said...

I always follow up with, "By the way, it's never good to piss off an Irish girl," and leave it at that -- it makes them wonder when you're going to meet them in a dark hallway.

Or you could just call him Doogie to his face and he might back off.

I'm not in the medical field but I'm always getting these people who consider themselves to be more educated than me, telling me how to do my job. It really pisses this Irish girl off. :-)

Tony said...

Awesome post Heather. I'm learning a lot about nurses that I never would have known if not for this blog. Pretty amazing that you always come up with not only intelligent and insightful posts but also similarly great comments as well. I guess you do awesome work in all aspects of your life. Much respect.