Saturday, October 20, 2012
Well DAMN! Ive been woefully neglectful posting lately, due to a combination of us being 7 nurses *SEVEN* short on our floor, coupled with all sorts of random bull. So. I've been on the floor for over a year now, practicing All By Myself. Know what's been striking me lately, now that I have enough experience to look up and around me instead of STRAIGHT AHEAD TRYING DESPERATELY TO GET EVERYTHING DONE? There are a hell of a lot of racists here in the Frozen Northlands. Not my colleagues. They're pretty chill. We have nurses and docs from pretty much EVERYWHERE, since we're a Badass Teaching Hospital known for having some of the NICEST people in the universe working for us. It's the patients. We are a predominantly white area. REAAAAAALLY white. And a disturbing number of people get pissy when their nurse (or even their doc) isn't lily white as well. Case 1. A few weeks back, i had a patient go on at me for TEN MINUTES about how his night shift nurse (the fantastic Minh- seriously, this chick never misses a THING on assessment. She's a rockstar. I had her teach me about limb ischemia when i started, because she is SO FREAKING GOOD) "didn't smile enough, wasn't caring enough, and can't speak english- if she's in this country she should try to speak the language!" ...Minh speaks PERFECT english. She's university educated in two countries, and can do flawless medical translations in two languages (English AND Mandarin) and she's passably good in Cantonese. Not just SPEAKING THE LANGUAGE, but MEDICALLY LITERATE. Sure, she doesn't grin at her patients, but they're tucked in, with snacks, clean, cozy, warm blanketed, and they get checked for comfort HOURLY. With a five patient assignment. I asked the patient what he would LIKE in his care. He said "well girls like YOU- you know, local girls!" I was like "sir, i'm not from here. And that sounds a bit racist." Dead...stunned...silence. I learned this technique from my cousin-in-law Roberto. He's from Chile. He says the best way to deal with racists is to flat out tell them "youre being racist". People usually just blush, and try to ignore behavior like this, and then the jerks dont get called on bad habits. Case 2. One of our awesome new surgical interns, Olivia, is of chinese descent. She and another intern, Rajan (indian descent)were doing a dressing change, supervised by Erik, an Icelander...like...from Iceland. The patient called me into his room first (DIFFERENT PATIENT, SAME ATTITUDE): "who was that foreign doctor?" Me: "Dr Sigbjornnison? Oh he's a senior surgical resident. His name CAN be a little hard to understand when he speaks fast. " DPSA: "Nono! The colored one! the FOREIGNER! I need to know if he's any good- i mean, did he go to a REAL medical school? Here?" Me: "Dr Singh is from New Jersey, sir, and I believe he went to Syracuse" DPSA: "and the little oriental girl?" (said with a dismissive sneer) Me: "Dr Lee is from California. And she went to Princeton and Columbia. All of your doctors are incredibly well trained. If you have any concerns about their MEDICAL training, you can always ask your attending physician. Otherwise, please just let them do their jobs" As if these totally awesome people don't have enough crap to deal with as nurses and surgical interns...Its up to ALL of us not to let them suffer silently. If you hear someone making racist remarks about a colleague, CALL THEM ON IT. Politely, but firmly. After all- this is a team sport.