Friday, December 21, 2012

Above and Beyond

It has been a scary, painful, difficult week, which began with 30+ hours of labor followed by a C-section.  I have been dealing with all of the challenges of being in the hospital as a patient for the first time (that I remember), recovering from surgery, and caring for a newborn (also for the first time).  Along the way though, I have had several moments, which I want to highlight, of the staff showing compassion and respect for me as a person, above and beyond the excellent medical care that I received.  I would like to thank:

The OBGYN, who kept me well informed about what was going on.  One of the scariest things is not knowing and letting your imagination run away with you.  When a decision had to be made, she explained the options and the implications of each one, as best they could be predicted, and gave me space to talk to my family too for support. 

The anesthesiologist, who kept me updated during the surgery, when I could not see because of the drape.  I have seen C-sections performed from the other side and know what the steps should be.  He also wrapped towels around my arms when I was shivering and let me know that this too would pass.

The post-partum night nurse, who was always positive and upbeat and never made me feel like I was bothering her, even when I was calling in the middle of the night.  Taking the baby to the nursery for a few hours, so we could get a little sleep, was much appreciated.

The day nurse, who was kind and encouraging, when I was having hormonal crying spells.  She reassured me that it was normal to feel overwhelmed at first and everything would be okay.

Everyone who let my husband know that he was doing a good job too.  Several nurses and the lactation consultant all remarked on this.  Maybe they tell every dad that he’s the best dad on the floor.  But they noticed the way he changed the diapers when I was still unsteady on my feet, the way he fed me and helped me drink while I was nursing, and the way he stayed with me and supported me through the whole process.  He certainly did not feel like he knew what he was doing, so I was glad that so many people with baby expertise could tell him that he was actually a gold-star daddy.

We are all doing much better now, settling into our new life at home.  Yes, this is hard work, but a great blessing too.  And it was good to see from the patient side how a little humanism can go such a long way in helping people to feel cared for.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Being the Patient in the Triad

Usually I am the Preceptor/Teacher in clinical settings, supervising a medical student or resident in their interactions with a patient.  I have the challenging and rewarding task of making sure that the patient is well cared for and that the learner’s needs are also met.  I am still working on the art of gently guiding learners while preserving their relationships with their patients.

Recently I had the relatively new experience of being the patient in a patient-student-preceptor triad.  At my OB appointment, a medical student was practicing how to check fetal dopplers and fundal height, supervised by the nurse-practitioner.  Overall, he was doing it correctly but I could tell that he would benefit from some direction on positioning.  I did not tell the student that I was a doctor, since I thought it might make him nervous, and I did not want to correct him myself, in case that would undermine his actual supervisor.  So, I kept quiet and observed.

The NP did an excellent job of showing him how to improve his technique, not only explaining what to do but why, and sharing expertise in a constructive way.  I am sure that this student has had plenty of experiences in his training when he was either ignored or completely crushed by criticism.  It was great to see him get some good teaching.  I was glad to provide him with a learning opportunity and also to learn something myself from a role model in precepting.