We have all had the good fortune to meet the smartest man in the room. You know the one. The guy who feels the need to educate you and correct you on every thing you do. He may have good intentions, and perhaps he does not mean it condescendingly at all (me? yes, I have been guilty of this from time to time.) I am talking about the other guy. The one who has to be the brightest light in any room, however instead of shining brighter, he just walks around trying to dampen everyone else’s light. That guy is an asshat, officially.
Doesn’t that sound like a dream come true? I love working with a team of people who are committed to a common purpose. Each person has their own perspective and part of the problem to solve. Respect and time is given to each member of the team. Everyone has a voice. More importantly, everyone shares common goals.
I want to find a place where this is actually the culture. I find myself trying to engage nurses in conversation about their patients. I tell them what I have in mind, and start asking them for feedback. They have seen the situation from a completely different angle than I have. I trust and respect their insight. However, I am often greeted with a blank stare.
When I do not understand why something is being done, there is a high probability that I do not know part of the problem. Perhaps I just do not have a firm grasp on the situation at hand. Nothing is better than when I am close enough to the physician I am working with that I can ask them about it without them assuming I am challenging them. I have learned to choose my words carefully and to explain my intentions, but these conversations have taught me so much over the years.
I have had so many physicians, nurses, NPs, and pharmacists who have been willing to explain and teach me. There are so many disciplines working together, each one bringing their own level of expertise to the table, it would be ridiculous to not utilize their experience. I love learning about things from a different perspective. It gives me a more dynamic understanding of the situation.
Now, what about the
asshat leader who is running amok and telling people inaccurate things? It is perfectly acceptable to be wrong from time to time, however I continue to be astounded by the number of people in the world who cannot admit to this. These same people love to walk around with their chests puffed out and head tilted at a slightly posterior angle, while looking down at you incredulously. They appear to be amused by your attempts to use your intelligence to learn about something new. They have to make inconsequential changes to your plans, just so they can say they did something.
Then, imagine their voice as they come over to talk to you. It all seems so earnest. They pull you aside and the whole conversation becomes very serious. They are imparting secret, magical information that cannot be gleaned from Uptodate. You listen expectantly, holding your breath in anticipation, pride welling up in your soul. Oh, he must have seen I was struggling! Perhaps I should let out a little giggle. I am so lucky to have this big, strong, virile man of medicine to keep me on the straight path. I could never have figured this out if he had not come to save me from my own ignorance.
Then you hear it. He is telling you how he is concerned for your well-being, and how he is so glad he can offer you his expertise. After all, he is a very busy and important man. Oh, swoon. I can’t believe he would take the time to tell me to use two 20 mg vials instead of one 40 mg vial. (Or something else equally ridiculous.) He will explain to you that the current evidence-based guidelines cannot be accurate, he has never seen that side effect the black box is warning against. No, it is not a well-known use of that extremely expensive drug. It is off label. Apparently, all the best cures are secrets. Only the best doctors get access to that information. The elite medical schools train them to pick up signals via a beacon in their neck. That is why they hold their head like that. I swear. I read it in a medical journal. You know, the ones nurses can’t read.
Ugh. All I want is to be able to have a conversation with the people I am working with. I love it when they have time to explain a concept I had never actually seen in real life, or just one I did not know a lot about. Seriously. I love to learn. I love to see the things I am learning about used in real life. For the love all that is good and intelligent in the world, do not expect me to follow archaic guidelines that are not in sync with current evidence based practice. There is a reason we have standards of care. I have found a lot of comfort in having mentors who taught me how to find these guidelines, and how to use them.
Of course, there are situations that may not fit the usual mold. There is most certainly an art to the practice and science of medical care. Sometimes there is more than one way to skin the proverbial cat. Please don’t try to teach me the wrong way to do things. Don’t use the phrase “that is how we have always done it.” I will want to know why. I always want to understand the rationale behind things. I want to know why we are choosing that particular option. Do not try to convince me to use antiquated methods when I have current peer-reviewed evidence at my fingertips. (Yes, I know the research and evidence is always changing… that is a topic I am woefully not able to discuss with anything resembling intelligence.)
Here is the point. Don’t talk down to me. Don’t pat my head like I am a wayward child. I am a professional, and despite my struggles to always portray myself in a dignified light, I am reasonably intelligent. I actually think there are some topics I can discuss with a pretty good level of mastery. I have been taught by the best! I do things to the best of my ability. If I come across a situation I am unsure about, I assure you I will seek your guidance. If you notice something I did not, or you just want to tell me about it, that is great! I love learning from experts. I may even take notes. I can promise you, I will be looking it up as soon as you walk away so I can remember it for next time.
One more thing I have noticed. Don’t listen to every man in the room and make it a point to not listen to me. Am I the only one that notices a difference when some men talk to women as opposed to how they speak to other men? Why am I hushed when men are invited to offer insight? Why am I a bitch when I am just being matter of fact? I hate to break it to you guys, your penis does not make you smarter. I have to be honest though, men are not the only asshats. I have had these strange interactions with women as well. I am not kidding when I say it bothers me when people are so transparently attempting to exert their dominance over everyone in the room.
So, come on. Give a girl a break. Feel free to educate, correct, and guide me. Just don’t be a jerk about it. I promise to continue working on the same thing. Perhaps there is a way to foster collaboration and open discussion without all the egos and BS. Maybe I should google that.