New Staff – New Eyes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listen to New Staff: New Eyes

I carried my tray, filled with test tubes and supplies for drawing blood, into the patient’s room.  As I got closer I could see that she was in a coma. Two doctors hovered over her talking about her like she wasn’t there.

Dr. Mike: “I don’t know what it is.”

Dr. Bob: “I don’t either, but if we don’t figure it out pretty quick, she’s going to die soon.”

I was a new blood technician, fresh out of training. I had been on the night shift for just over a week. We were in the second floor intensive care unit of a teaching hospital. I was called to draw blood for the many tests that the doctors wanted to run. I put on my gown, mask and gloves and walked over to look at the chart on the bed. Her name was Mrs. Jones.

I said, “Hello Mrs. Jones. I’m from the lab, the doctors want me to draw some blood so they can do some tests, okay?”

“Oh she can’t hear you, she’s in a coma,” the ICU nurse said.

“That’s okay, I explain the same thing to all the patients,” I responded with a smile.

The nurse’s comment, and the doctors behaviors, have stuck with me for over 20 years. They struck me as callous and cold then, and they still do now.

New people coming into any culture tend to notice things that people who have been there for a long time ignore out of habit. This situation sparked a lifelong interest in how people communicate on the job.

I continued to explain what I was doing to each patient, whether they were in a coma
or not. I was new to the staff, and I had a lot to learn. But after that incident, I realized that
I might have something new to bring too.  (Note: Names changed for confidentiality.)

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