Okay folks… I’m sure that there will be some Tweeps out there who have many more to add, but I’ve come up with 7 ways you know you are an experienced health care practitioner to get the ball rolling……
- Health vocabulary of the general public – You no longer bat an eyelid when a patient says they have ‘sugar’ – which translates to diabetes, or, for a great optometry example, people often tell you that they have “a stigma” and sometimes even “a stigmata” when they mean astigmatism.
- Your age – You long for the days when patients ask “aren’t you young to be a health professional?” because when they asked this you looked too young to be trusted to drive a car, let alone to be trusted to complete an examination and give them health advice. Now that you are more experienced and obviously look “about the right age” for a health professional, you realize how much your appearance must have changed over the years. Dang!
- Case history – you have stopped glossing over case history as you once did as a new grad, as you have realized that taking a good case history might actually be the most important part of the consultation. Taking a detailed history steers the direction of the whole consultation, and can actually save you time, and the patient the financial and time cost of unnecessary tests!! You have also realized that patients will be more willing to partner with you in the matter of their own health care if they have had the opportunity to make sure you understand why they have come to see you/what their concerns are.
- Shockability – It takes a LOT to shock you – as a newly graduated optometrist, I used to be shocked at the state of some people’s eyes – I mean, people would leave it days, or in some cases, weeks, to come in to get treatment for their inflamed or infected eye. These days I’m just happy if they come in before the time when they have permanent and irreversible damage! When I interviewed GP Dr Judith O’Malley-Ford, she talked about hoping that she has trained herself never to look shocked when someone shows her something or tells her something. A great lesson for all health professionals there!!
- Friday/after hours plan – you know that the patients mentioned in point 4 are most likely to present on a Friday, as they have left it until Friday morning to call your practice to make an appointment. By this stage they have realized that their condition it is not going away on its own, and will need some treatment. They figure that they need to get this done ASAP, as they might not be able to access care over the weekend. Inevitably, some of the people who present on a Friday have a condition for which the treatment is outside your area of expertise. You know which practitioner/s you can refer these people to on a Friday AND you know if/when they are going on holidays AND they are on your Christmas card list!
- Trying not to stereotype – If you are in a practice where the patient’s occupation is put on their card, you know to expect that a consultation with an engineer will be very different to that of a nurse, which will be different to that of a school teacher….. you get the idea. You spend quite a bit of mental energy trying not to stereotype patients before they have even walked in the door, to make sure you manage each case as it comes!
- Acceptance of weird stuff – you have stopped trying to understand why people do the weird things that they do, and have accepted that it must have made sense to them to do that at the time. As an optometrist, I’ve never had a role in an emergency department, but have heard stories of patients who have tried to perform their own minor medical procedures, or come in with foreign objects lodged in their orifice/s. These days I figure that whatever these people were doing prior to their presentation to a health care professional must have seemed like a good idea at the time, otherwise they wouldn’t have attempted it in the first place!
So now it’s over to you…. are you an experienced health professional who would like to add to this list? If so, go for your life in the “speak your mind” box below!!
Amanda – Founder MHC