During my rotations so far, it has become extremely evident to me that every individual in the hospital or office plays a critical role in patient care. I admire everyone’s skill base and responsibilities, and often think about how physicians would be extremely vulnerable if they worked alone like they did in the beginning stages of medicine, and how a patient’s care quality would be so much less. Each person who works in the health system is fundamental to the complex web of components to care, and here are a few examples I’ve observed:
- Nurse and medical assistant. The clinic would absolutely be nothing without the nurses and medical assistants. They not only make sure everything is set up for the patient and that patients are comfortable but often know the patients well and make the visits enjoyable for patients. I have seen this especially in OB-GYN, where a doctor may enter the room and patients specifically request for the nurse because the nurse took such good care of them and took the time to ensure that whatever they were doing was in alignment with the patient’s desires.
- Surgical technician. No matter how many times I go into the OR, I am always in awe of how efficiently surgical techs act and how the surgery would go so much more slowly without them. It makes me think about how much training they have to go to in order to know instinctively which tool is which, and what sizes are appropriate for what procedures.
- Receptionist. The flow of the clinic can be attributed in part to the role of the receptionist. The receptionists ensure that we keep on schedule by checking patients in on time and keep the providers updated on the status of patients (whether they are waiting, roomed, left to go see lab or radiology, etc.). The receptionists also make sure that patients are aware of their follow-up appointments and direct them to where they need to go next if they are to go have labs drawn or imaging done.
- Social worker. When there is a social worker onsite (like there is on the ACE units I’ve recently rounded on in hospitals), care is so much more efficient. Often times, patients’ families have questions about end of life care, palliative care, hospice options, insurance, local resources, etc. and physicians do not always have the answers. The social worker can discuss in depth with patients about these important topics, and not only answer patients’ questions but ensure that they leave with a stable grasp on what the future will look like in terms of their care.
My takeaway from understanding the vital role that each staff member plays in a patient’s care and in the operation of the clinic is to be extremely grateful and extremely kind to everyone. You will be working with them daily and will realize how much help they are, and how much they have to offer. The healthcare system is a perfect example of the mantra, there is no “I” in team.