Why do you work here?

I had my second hospital visit of the week today. I think that’s a record, even for me. On the plus side, both visits were planned and were for straightforward tests. I knew what I was getting into, as I’ve had several of these over the past few years. I had a CT scan and a sleep EEG, both marvels of modern medicine etc etc.

After both visits, however, I was left with the feeling that a number of the hospital staff were definitely in the wrong job. Don’t get me wrong – all the medics and paramedical personnel I’ve come into contact with during my pleasant (and many) visits to hospitals in London have been a delight. Paramedics, nurses, physicians, neurologists, psychologists – all great people.

No, the people I’m referring to are the administrative staff. Without fail, I’ve been greeted by surly and uncooperative dregs, the kind of people whose sole mission at work seems to be the unquestioning implementation of process at all costs, even in the face of common sense or at a costs to patient wellbeing. The kind of people for whom the filling in of a form is infinitely more important than empathy with someone who is scared, someone who is wondering if they’re about to hear life-shattering news from their doctor. Someone who feels they need to answer every questions with a theatrical roll of the eyes and a deep sigh.

I’ve witnessed interpersonal communication that would make Attila the Hun appear like a genuinely empathic and caring individual. I’ve had questions answered by a pointed finger and a “sit down” hand motion. I’m not sure if this was a language issue – and if it was, why the hell are they working in a role that requires them to speak with the general public – but even if it was, why not try smiling while dismissing me with a wave of your hand?

While I’m at it, when you’re working with your harpy-like colleague, you may wish to occasionally glance up from your “Heat”-fuelled bitch-fest and see if the queue of waiting patients has reached the door. You might also consider how loudly you talk to patients on the phone and just how much of their personal information you share with the rest of the waiting room. You may – if you reflect on it for a moment – want to consider changing your communication style from that of Barbara Windsor throwing someone “outta moy pahb” to something a little gentler and more suited to your environment.

If you dislike the old, the ill, or simply have a general dislike of everyone who is not from your particularly nasty part of town, you might want to think about working someone more suited to your skill set.

I’m thinking abattoir, betting shop or as a member of Ryanair cabin crew.

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  3. I’m so sorry, dove.

    I’ll say this: the Midwest is full of lovely people. French people who mistakenly stop here on holiday are disgusted (I’m not joking) at how ‘fake’ we all are. Well, that’s perhaps TRUE. We treat strangers as if they’re precious creatures. We treat ignorance (usually) with kindness, like you would a lost toddler; ie: at St. Francis, I simple couldn’t find the right CORRIDOR. I spied an elderly volunteer and stopped her at what she was doing to find out. She had no idea. Instead of pointing me to the help desk within 30 feet & within sight, she walked me TO the help desk and asked for me. I mean…we’re ridiculously kind. And of course I spent the next 90 seconds apologizing for being an idiot. Of course, I’m white–sad to say but the Midwest has some bigoted people.

    I love to help people and that sounds like a good job for me til I remember how much I hated working with the public in retail. Maybe it’s different when you know somebody needs medical attention rather than the latest Night Ranger album.

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