Why the Nurses Love Me
Yesterday morning I was rounding on a patient who is on the surgical floor, awaiting an ERCP. I was discussing some issues with the charge nurse when a middle-aged man in scrubs approached the desk.
"Who is Sue?" He boomed, clearly expecting immediate attention.
The charge nurse turned to him. "We've both been working here over 20 years and you still don't know my name?"
The man in scrubs shrugged, clearly unmoved. "Nurses are generic."
And with that, he grabbed a chart, spun on one heel and left. Nurses rolled their eyes in the general direction of his back.
"Who the hell was that?" I had to know, if for no other reason than to avoid him carefully in the future.
"Dr. Pompous,"* she replied. "He's the oral surgeon. He doesn't come in much, which is probably why you haven't met him yet."
Thank God. So Sue and I go back to our discussion of how to best reverse my patient's anticoagulation until Dr. Pompous blows back into the nursing station.
"I want her NPO today before I touch her." He announced. I had been in mid-sentence, a fact which clearly did not faze Dr. Pompous. He stepped in front of me to address Sue as though I wasn't even there.
I saw red. This kind of bullsh*t might be shrugged off my the nurses, but I didn't have to play the academic hierarchy game anymore.
"Oh, I'm sorry," I said loudly, "I thought I was speaking here."
Dr. Pompous stopped in mid-sentence. He turned to face me with an eyebrow raised, clearly trying to size me up.
"I'm sorry," he said, clearly not sorry in the least. "I'm Dr. Pompous. And you are?"
"Dr. Couz," I replied, putting the emphasis on the title. I didn't explain further.
That changed the game a bit. He sputtered a bit, then backed down and let me continue my conversation with the charge nurse.
If I were a little gutsier, I would have replied: "I'll try to remember your name, but surgeons are generic."
* Names have been changed to protect the innocent... and the pompous.