My first two weeks of work I spent sitting behind a computer. I was deciphering the barely legible scrawl the doctors used to document their patients histories. Does that say cataracts or contacts? Ah hah, no one ever documented her hernia surgery. Let me compile a list of all her abnormal pap smears. I passed the hours wading through piles of charts, turning written word into organized script tucked securely into the network of electronic medical records. Some charts were like walking through a museum- flipping through pages as much as fifty years old, seeing how charting has changed over time, reading as a young woman turns into an adult having babies and going through menopause. I took a few patient phone calls. Only one patient’s commented, saying matter-of-factly, but sincerely, “I heard what happened and I’m sorry,” before moving on to her question. It was a perfect phone encounter.
I spent a day following one of the docs around. I could help him with charting and it allowed me exposure to patients without any responsibility. I could see how they reacted. I ended up seeing a few patients on my own. I was unprepared mentally- the plan was just to observe, but these ones happened to be mine and it felt silly to let someone else see them. I made it through the visits. Mostly, though, I sat staring at a computer screen, typing or mindlessly scanning. I got bored. This must be what an office job feels like, I thought. It was good because I had little responsibility as I adjusted to being out of the house in the real world. By the end of the second week, of working only 2 or 3 days each week, I was ready to move on. I could see how overwhelmed my coworkers were and I felt like I was delaying the inevitable. It was time to see patients.
I opened up my schedule for appointments and asked the staff to give me extra time with patients. I’m slower charting because I’m out of practice and I wanted a little leeway in case patients asked or I became emotional. A full load of patients is also stressful- running late, remembering everything- I’m still learning how to handle stress again. I asked to see gyn patients only. Having spent a day observing, I knew I wasn’t ready to see OB patients yet.
My first day of being a “real” midwife- as in one with a schedule, seeing patients- was, well, good. I felt like the kind of midwife I wanted to be- spending all sorts of time with my patients, exploring each of their issues and writing really good notes. I left work feeling good. I feel guilty having such a light schedule- like I’m not pulling my weight, but at the end of the day I had a nice talk with one of the doctors I work with that reassured me. I told her how my day went and she said “Good. We have to keep you feeling like that.”
That was day one of scheduled patients- I left satisfied. Today was day two and I left feeling less satisfied. I saw patients bringing in their small kids and women who found themselves unexpectedly pregnant at their annual. I was faced with reminders of what I lost around every corner. I found myself having to counsel someone about whether they want testing for Down Syndrome. I thought I wasn’t doing OB yet?
Take it slow, they all say. But reality is- my workplace is suffering. People are overworked; patients are having trouble getting timely appointments. Staffing is changing, which is affecting schedules. And the call schedule is made months in advance. I’m being asked whether I should be on the call schedule in September. I don’t know how I’m going to feel- I just started seeing gyn patients. I want to scream I HAVE NO IDEA!
Right now, I’m tempted to say I hate my job. That’s not totally true- I just hate the circumstances. I hate that it’s summer, our busiest time and I’m disappointing everyone. I hate that I’m making everyone else’s job harder. I hate that our staffing is changing, which makes me feel pressured to resume a normal schedule. I hate that I dread going to work. I hate that I sound like a whiner. I hate that I’m not meeting expectations- those of others or my own. I hate that my baby died and life just seems to go on.