Hospitalization

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“The ER doc says he remembers you from when you used to work there.” She laughed. “He liked you a lot, said you were a really good doctor, that it didn’t matter what time of night, you were always dressed up, with flawless make-up.”

It’s true. 

I would sleep in street clothes and make-up when I was on call so if I had a critical patient and had to go in, I was ready. 

Minutes count.

So do appearances, especially if you are a woman. People notice. It affects how they respond to you.

Much of healing has nothing to do with tests and procedures and drugs, as it turns out. A lot of it is showmanship, portraying confidence, treating patients with respect.

The thing is, and I never thought I would say this, I miss the hospital. Her comment made me think and I realized that I was having wistful thoughts. Somehow my hospital work felt more important than what I do now, only outpatient clinic. I feel like I spend most of my time pushing buttons, signing papers, attending this meeting or that meeting, trying to meet various measures. I miss being a stronger advocate, the firecracker spitfire who fought for her patients. I miss the adrenaline. I miss feeling like the sacrifices I was making were worth it.

That part of my life is over, though. There is no going back. It was a necessary thing at the time, stepping back. Now it has been too long. Things are too different. Hospitalists, dedicated inpatient physicians, save hospitals money so there is no role for me in that model anymore.

But I still look back on those good ole days from time to time… And think wistfully.

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46 thoughts on “Hospitalization

  1. Appearances do matter. My son used to be the cybersecurity guy at the White House. When the phone rang at home at night, it almost always meant that he was needed at work (“POTUS tried to do thus-and-so, and it didn’t work.”). He let his wife answer the phone while he went to put on a suit. He said, “You get treated a lot better walking across the White House grounds at night if you are wearing a suit than if you are wearing jeans and a tee shirt.”

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    • I did inpatient and out patient medicine, not ER. If someone was super I’ll and needed ICU, I would go in to see them in the ER and write their orders. So when I was on call I would admit anyone that did not have a doctor and I would follow my own patients when they were admitted. It was hard to be up all night and do a full day of clinic the next day, but it WAS rewarding. πŸ™‚

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  2. HA! You are so right Victo – they actually had courses in B-school on how to dress for maximum impact. I used to manipulate my wardrobe and job title to get the effect I was aiming for. The difference was quite amazing. So if i wanted to buddy up with cops at an accident scene, I would dress down and call myself safety officer. If I was impressing upon opposing council in a deposition how right we were and how wrong their client was,I would dress up and call myself a Safety Director. Every now and then I would get caught dressed wrong and that could lead to issues. I had a deposition and had dressed up one day when a potential new customer we were courting dropped by the office to meet with my boss and myself (safety was always a concern with new customers and they usually wanted details on our training and such) and operations There were three in the customer’s party and three on our side of the board room table. Even though we all introduced ourselves and provided cards for reference the customers kept addressing their remarks to me. I would point to the boss and remind them but in short order they would be back talking to me again. It was a bit embarrassing.

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  3. I have to laugh… we have many clinicians who come to us from hospitals to escape whatever they were doing, usually long hours and too much documentation. About six months into our place, they hit the wall and start to bitch about…..the long hours and the documentation. The grass always seem greener…..

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  4. Hi ! I really enjoy your blog I think it’s one of the best ! If it’s ok I’m nominating you for an award that I’m accepting . Part accepting is nominating someone and I think your blog is amazing

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A hospitalist!! – you would just love it here. South Australia with a population marginally larger than what would fit into a telephone booth, is currently constructing the third most expensive building the the world – the Money Pit = AKA The New Royal Adelaide Hospital. Plagued by cost blowouts, budget overruns and shoddy workmanship in places, not to mention the concern that some of the cheap material from Chine is riddled with Asbestos, and so far behind schedule for delivery, it will probably open as an Old Folks Home. Of course, we are closing down or running down all the medical facilities ( hospitals) outside the city of Adelaide to pay for it. But isn’t that the sort of sacrifice you have to make for a world class facility?

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  6. Someone has to play devil’s advocate here. I’ve known people who were upset if their doctor was too well put together, especially if it was a female doctor (“maybe she should spend a little less time on her makeup and a little more time on me!”). But having said that, I personally get nervous if the doctor who walks into my ER exam room looks like he/she hasn’t slept in two days (he/she probably hasn’t) – I can’t help but wonder about his/her ability to think clearly, and that scares me.

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    • Women are judged more harshly about a lot of things. The key is to spend the time you need with patients. Answer their questions. Make them feel cared for so they don’t think those thoughts. But when push comes to shove, patients are more likely to do what they need to do when I talk to them about it in nice clothes, instead of scrubs. But you are right about sleep deprivation. I have found myself writing or talking gibberish before….

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  7. I miss knowing someone is alive at the end of the day because I was there. I miss knowing patients and families were comforted if death was imminent. I loved being part of making life easier, or bearable, but I couldn’t go on forever.

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  8. It is nice to think back, but don’t forget to include the sleepless nights, and the con’s of working in the ER….I know your doing good in the clinic…your a good doctor and am positive that you have helped changed more peoples lives for the better than you let yourself count….Kat

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  9. An aura of confidence in a doctor is obviously a necessity, but in my lifetime I’ve come to accept my own responsibility as a patient in the relationship.

    Recently I had laser treatment for some 60 skin problems on my back and was given a “healing cream” to apply. Without thinking, I asked about how long I should apply it to the lesions and the NP instantly replied, “6 weeks”. It took the spots about a week and a half to heal; it was just a matter of common sense, and a dumb question on my part. It is very easy to fall into the trap of thinking doctors are god-like. Patients and/or advocates have just as much responsibility.

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  10. Il y a un temps pour temps. There is a season, turn, turn, turn. I believe from what you tell (somewhere US of A, that you are very useful. Otherwise your patients would only be facing bureaucrats. Keep fighting.

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