Outbursts #032: (M) I SEE YOU

So, let’s talk about hospitals.

Last semester, I started volunteering at the UVa Hospital. I landed a shift in the Medical Intesnive Care Unit (aka MICU). Specifically, I work in 3-West MICU and that’s basically how I answer phone at my station:

“This is 3-West MICU speaking. How may I help you?”

I might as well say, “How may I NOT help you,” as my ability actually help the person who is calling is near to nil. Every call I get is a garble of words travelling in one ear and out the other. To be honest, I’m actually always so focused on making sure I don’t mess up my ‘introduction’ that I fail to even process what is said afterward. It’s kind of like when you’re at a social gathering or are meeting someone new, and are especially concerned with how you’ll introduce yourself, and when that moment finally arrives, all brain processing power is directly sent to saying, “Hey! My name is BLANK. What’s your name?” ultimately resulting in an inability to recall the person’s name 5 minutes later.

OK. Perhaps I’m not really that useless (give me some credit here…), as Idodirect the caller to someone who can help if I’m unable to. However, most of the time, I suffer from feeling inapt since about 75% of the calls involve someone having a question/looking for a nurse. This results in me turning around and asking the nurse next to me, “Do you know who XXX is?” Might as well not have me be a fairly inefficient middle man… Can’t blame me entirely, though. As my shift is once a week for a 3 hour block, I hardly am able to really familiarize myself with faces and names (I’m shamefully horrible at remembering names+faces), which is not helped by the fact that most of the nurses in MICU rotate and charge nurses are reassigned every week.

All-in-all though, I’ve found this experience to be truly enlightening. After having worked for a full semester, I slowly feel feel myself becoming more comfortable with answering phone calls, rushing around looking for nurses, delivering medications from the inner tube system—the suction sound is so awesome, SCHLUUOOOOOOP—, and in general, looking like a dimwit. Mof the nurses seeming to be friendly enough (with me at least) and knowledgable with how to treat patients. Watching rotations and the occasional doctors/nurses do rounds is really cool to witness (though such rounds’ effectiveness are debatable). Thus far, however, it has been a pleasure volunteering at the hospital. I feel that I’ve grown more social, able to conduct myself, and confident in myself through this experience. Yay, MICU.


P.S. To put my anxiety into perspective, I truly was terrified with answering the phone when I first started my shift at the MICU. These are those OFFICE phones with buttons. THOUSANDS of BUTTONS (hyperbole). Who uses buttons anymore? Nowadays, everything are dropdown/popout menus and minimalistic touch buttons, NOT buttons with blinking lites and five letter abbreviations for every single action possible on a phone. It felt strangely archaic and foreign, enough to put my nerves on edge. I’m OK with machinery and operating devices, but while under the pressure from a human being being on the other end of the line, my unfamiliar inexpertise with social human engagement suddenly surfaces and causes the situation to be increasingly stressful.

But. It’s all better now. I can pick up the phone on the first ring now instead of the third ring. =P

BTW; Happy New Year!

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