Where's The Love?
Add to this the frustration of being screamed at by scrub nurses for the cursed sin of taking up space, being given attitude for going so far as to ask a nurse how a patient was doing, and being accused by one nurse of being a prank caller when I asked about one patient's antibiotics over the local phone system from a floor below ("How do I really know you are a medical student and not some prank caller?" I mean, c'mon now, if that's what prank calling has actually come to these days, Haywood Jablomie and Mike Rotch must be rolling in their graves), and it's pretty clear that my introduction to the doctor-nurse divide has not been that smooth.
Of course, if this was just a one-sided battle, I would be ignoring half of the truth. Let's put aside for a moment the fact that the previous sentence, if you really starting thinking about it, makes no sense at all. From what I have observed regarding the nursing perspective (and to any nurses out there, please feel free to chime in with stories of your own), it goes without saying that they put up with a serious wad of shit on a daily basis, and not just from patients code brown-ing* all over the place. They have to deal with doctors barking orders at them all the time, demanding instant gratification of said orders, and then getting upset half the time if the nurses do the orders written down because the doctor had since changed his or her mind and was expecting the nurse to read minds and change the plan accordingly. There's surgeons who tell the scrub nurse to do five different things at the same time, and then ask why nothing is ready to go that second. Between ward time and OR time, I've seen plenty of doctors scream at nurses on a daily basis in a horrific condescending tone, with one doctor getting so infuriated with a nurse over something that was not even her fault he called up the administration people and demanded that she be fired on the spot. Ouch.
A downward spiral has been created, with doctors hating nurses and nurses hating doctors. Doctors start screaming at nurses automatically, and nurses respond by not even doing what the doctors order until the last possible second for no reason other than pure, unadulterated spite. Doctors telling me about how nurses are "all a bunch of lazy fat cows, those damn cows." (Yes, that exact analogy has been used on multiple occasions). Nurses confiding in me that "the chief resident is the most awful human being I have ever met." And so on, and so forth. It has become evident to me over the past few months that, going against all those classic porn movies I was brought up on that invoked the sacred and genuine love between doctors and nurses, there is actually a lot of animosity between these two parts of the medical establishment.
So the question remains, how to remedy this situation, this tussle, this eternal struggle between two war-torn factions eager to tear each other apart limb from limb? This is a tough question, because it seems as if a distance has developed between these two groups, and there is simply not enough communication going on. This is compounded by a lack of continuinty, as doctors and nurses do not even know each other most of the time because the teams and shifts change so often.
Given the demands of modern health care delivery and this need to constantly change things up, how can we as professionals tear down this metaphorical wall of hatred as efficiently as possible? The answer, my friends, is quite simple. What we need to do is just collectively get over ourselves, get over our positions, our responsibilities, and our backgrounds...and have one big, massive, sweaty orgy. Right at the nurses station. In front of all the patients. Lasting as long as possible (which means until one of the many junkie patients calls the nurses desk with a request like "I'm in so much pain, can you please just give me another ten vicodin?"). Look, I'll be willing to overlook the fact that you're very likely to be a morbidly obese Philipino woman in her 50's with more facial hair above your lip than I have on my entire body, if you can ignore the fact that I am probably going to be about as good at pleasing you in bed as I am at collecting the aforementioned patient vitals (i.e. not that good). I think this will go a long way towards helping everyone just relax, do their jobs, and work harmoniously together.
Barring this development, the least we could do is stop pretending like we are fighting each other over all of these rather petty details and territorial concerns, but instead become united around the fact that we share a common enemy, one so vile, so terrible, so fearful, that we must do all we can to protect each other from this creature. Who am I referring to? The patients, of course.
*Much like Code Blue (patient dying) and Code Red (fire in hospital), Code Brown has earned its way into hospital lore by signifying when a patient has managed to crap his or her pants, except since they aren't wearing any pants and are instead wearing a hospital gown with an exposed back, all of the poo gets on the sheets, bed, floor, hallway, and, sometimes, if you're really lucky, your white coat.