Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Hazing the new guy

No-one's spanked my buttocks. I haven't been forced to eat anything more unsavoury than the usual canteen fare, and my eyebrows remain unshaved.

As far as initiation rituals go, this institution has been surprisingly gentle with me.

But there's no doubt I'm still the
new boy. Some of the nurses, with more years on the wards than I've had in medical school, like to pull rank. Sometimes with good reason.

I often ask their advice. Most nurses are happy to give it, and most of the time I agree with them. They've helped me survive my first month as a doctor, and I'm unbelievably grateful to them.

There are exceptions. The Lemon is very similar to the Potato, except that her skin is more sallow, and (ironically) she has a larger chip on her shoulder.

She's already had run-ins with the Giant, who's been unfailingly polite to her. It was my turn today.

Jim was the reason for her fury. He'd been hiding his tablets. To be more precise, alternately hiding them behind his pillow and throwing them away. He didn't like the chalky taste.

I re-assessed whether he needed them, and decided not to re-prescribe them. This did not go down well. Over the phone, in a furious screeching voice, with bile dripping through the telephone wires, the Lemon demanded to know what I thought I was doing. My explanation clearly didn't cut the mustard, because she hung up on me.

One thing they definitely don't teach you at medical school is industrial relations. It's all experience. The Giant can shrug off a thousand minor arguments each day, on the basis that a) it's his job, and b) there's less oxygen up there next to his head, so he needs to save his breath for the important stuff.

The Mountain Goat has a different technique for avoiding the day-to-day hassle of the job. He's a Consultant, so you have to attain quite a high rank before you can take him on. By that point, most people have tired of the petty disagreements, and would rather just treat patients or go home and see their families. Also, by the time you've composed your thoughts enough to start an argument with him, he's halfway up the stairs.

I don't have the experience, or the status, or the stairwell speed, to get round the Lemon. But I do have some sympathy for her. Hospital admissions have increased massively in the last decade, and nurses have borne the brunt of that. They've got too many patients, and I've still got too few.

The old rules of the doctors-and-nurses game are changing. The boundaries are blurring: each year, women dominate medical school intakes, reversing the previous gender imbalance. At the same time, nurses are taking on roles once reserved for doctors - prescribing, management of chronic conditions, specialisation. It's an odd relationship, an experienced nurse and a brand new doctor.

So I'm hoping that we'll sort things out, the Lemon and me. And then my experience of the nursing profession won't be all sour grapes.


steph said...

Great stuff this! I'm left wondering though if your views would be different had 'The Lemon' been a male nurse? Keep up the great blogging!

Anonymous said...

similar in many jobs

the RSM welcoming the brand new 2nd Lt etc

Or the Foreman running the big industrial plant welcoming the new engineer fresh out of uni

Main difference is you are in a fucked up socialist lot of bollocks which is failing badly and must be shit to work in once you realise that aint gonna change

HospitalPhoenix said...

Getting those professional relationships sorted out is a must. Strangely enough, I blogged about a similar issue just 30 minutes ago!

The Junior Doctor said...

Hey there LW
I think the single thing that makes the biggest difference to how much you enjoy your job is how well you get on with the people you work with. Getting things right is so important. Have a read of one of my posts from a couple of weeks back. You may find it interesting

Ain't No Angel said...

fair play to ya! stand up to her in a calm and professional way. every ward has someone like her and I'm sure you wouldn't be alone in not being on her Xmas card list.

this sort of behaviour really annoys me though, ffs we're all supposed to be working together!