The Curse of the ID Card
19 Apr 2017
Day one in your new role and you can guarantee they'll catch you for your ID badge photo - even worse, they won't and they'll approach you on day 4 when you're slightly more dishevelled trying to keep up in a world that feels completely alien still. Your photo is set to dangle round your neck for weeks, months or even years to come, a timid newcomer to the organisation, slightly pixelated, poorly lit and definitely not fit for the cover of Vogue.
For weeks you'll be desperately hoping that everyone you meet has their ID badge facing you so you can glance awkwardly, attempting to read the too small font and figure out who you're talking to.
Despite your hatred of the dangling photo of doom, that little plastic card is invaluable and you're terrified to lose it. You've perfected your bow as you touch the card to the printer every time you want to print, copy or scan anything. You know exactly how close you can get to the little grey box on the wall without head-butting the wall itself and your lanyard quickly establishes it as part of your uniform, even in an un-uniformed role. You dread the day that the reassuring pats on your stomach as you walk toward the building isn't there, the shame of having to ask reception for a temporary pass, the inconvenience of being unable to print for a whole day...
What’s going on?
You never really know what is going on in someone else’s life, how current events might impact on them, how their feelings might play out into actions. It’s the same wherever you are, you expect people to conform to societal standards yet. We judge the fit, healthy young person who doesn’t readily give up their seat on public transport, not considering the crushing news they may have just received. You have no idea that the person grinning ear to ear on the stormiest day causing problems across the town has just found out the gender of the child they have wanted for years.
The range of events and emotions in a person’s life feels exaggerated in the hospital environment where news ranges from the start of new life to death. The Cleveland Clinic in America have produced a video (https://youtu.be/cDDWvj_q-o8) highlighting the many underlying things that could be going on for people within a hospital, medical results and personal factors. It serves as a reminder that the people you pass in the corridor (or supermarket or street) could have a multitude of things going on.
I’ve seen this video several times during the scheme and each time I watch it I get something different from it. It serves as a good reminder that I don’t know what is going on for other people. For patients and visitors, I don’t know why they’re on site, I don’t know what news they have received, what they fear. For staff, I don’t know what is occurring in their personal lives and I don’t know what they are dealing with as part of their working lives. Each individual I encounter during the working day deserves to be treated as an individual, with respect and compassion, I need to be considerate to their needs and tailor my approach appropriately.
Remind me why we do it again?
As a GMTS trainee, you’re in a really special position and get exposed to a number of different services, staff and service users. As such, you’re often asked why you chose the NHS Graduate Scheme. My answer is often what might be classed as a “standard” response, I genuinely care about the patients and about making their experience the best possible, I want to work in an environment that lets me feel that I’m making a difference, in this role, indirectly to the patient but equally important as front line staff. The graduate scheme and academic work which goes alongside promotes reflection on experiences but recently, I was reminded of my own actions in 2009 and an incident when I was working as a Community First Responder in the North West Ambulance Service.
Back in 2009, I did my first shift as a Community First Responder and two minutes before clocking off for the evening received a call to a property two streets from where I lived, I attended a patient with chest pain whilst he waited for an ambulance. The patient suffered a cardiac arrest in front of me and through being in the right place, with the right equipment, at the right time, I was able to successfully resuscitate him and by the time he reached our local hospital, he was fully alert. I met my patient several times after the incident and it was covered in local media; the BHF also did some filming with the two of us which is used on a DVD about the importance of early defibrillation.
Patients are the reason I come to work and although I am removed from them (ie I’m not dealing directly with patients), I deal with the staff who deal with patients; I have a want and a desire to make things better for them and a drive to make our hospitals the best they can be.