2017 is ending on a more or less positive note. Literally, today, December 31st, I feel pretty good about things and optimistic about the future. I’m not sure if I really spent the year “being forceful” or “getting what I came for” as I had wanted to at the end of 2016, but I do have some rather good memories, as well as a few lost opportunities.
A prime example of this was in the ED. It was a quiet night shift with one of my favorite doctors, we have a good relationship and he’s always been kind to me asking questions about the profession. The hospitalist asked him to go to the ICU to oversee an intubation on a patient, so my doctor goes up. I have never been to the ICU, I have never seen an intubation. I was curious and it would have been a great learning experience for me. And I am almost certain that my doctor would have said OK if I had asked to tag along, but I didn’t. I’m not sure why I didn’t ask. And I still kick myself in the butt for this missed opportunity. And yet a few hours later into the night, I didn’t hesitate and was able to be of “great” assistance. A patient came in post-stroke and because it was a night shift, the ED connected via iPad to a tele-stroke unit. Well, the doctor and nurses were having difficulty connecting. There was a number to call but it wasn’t enough digits to be a telephone number. During emergencies, I tend to observe and record, that’s more or less the job, but I walked up to the tablet and started pressing buttons, I had a good instinct about what was going on. Sure enough, the number wasn’t a telephone number but a conference code. They needed to enter an app and connect via conference line. Voila, I made it happen. I was really proud of myself because I have this passive nature where I tend not to get involved, but I was able to help, my skills were useful. I’m sure they would have gotten it figured out, but I helped save some time.
Similarly, during a chemistry exam, I noticed the student beside me had writing on her hand. It took me several minutes to work up the courage to ask her about it. She said they were her study notes and she offered to wash them off. I was still passive, saying, “it’s up to you if you wash it off” and “don’t you think that’s messed up?” But I didn’t cause a scene, I didn’t get the TA, I didn’t demand she wash her hands. The next day, I spoke to the professor about what my exchange with the student. Another move I wasn’t sure about — Was I trying to get her in trouble? Would the professor wonder why I didn’t do more? Would the professor wonder if I was making it up? But ultimately, confronting her and putting the situation in the hands of the Professor allowed me to walk away with a clean conscious. It wasn’t up to me to determine what would happen anyway, but something “wrong” clearly happened, so I spoke up. Could I have done more? Sure. But I did something, and I think that’s important.
My resolution and/or my goal for 2018 is to not miss out on opportunities. It can hurt to ask, but rejection won’t kill you either.