Welcome Back

Welcome Back photo: jparadisi

Reluctantly, I sit at my computer writing this post. Tomorrow I will spend eight hours at a training computer learning the electronic medical record system, Epic. The following day, I will spend another eight hours doing the same thing. I previously posted that our hospital converted from paper charts to EMR last week while I was on medical leave. I am making up the classes that my colleagues took last month. Although I’m not thrilled about spending so much time at a computer, I am looking forward to participating in patient care again.

I provided precious little help to my coworkers during the two shifts I worked last week, since besides having limits on lifting, I won’t have a computer sign on until I complete the two classes mentioned above. Instead, I spent much of my time following coworkers who kindly taught me as much as they could about Epic in a live patient care setting.

The hardest thing about those two shifts was my feeling of incompetence, because nothing in our unit operates the way it did before EMR. I can’t even open a patient’s chart, look up the name of their doctor, or find an order without a sign on. I’m used to being nursing muscle, not a helpless bystander. I felt uncomfortable, and I have to admit, mildly anxious.

The funny thing was, because Epic is still so new, my coworkers are struggling too. In that way, we remain on level ground, although at least they can access charts, and record the care they gave. However, I could see how learning to navigate the new system slows them down. One way that I helped was to listen thoughtfully as they described the frustrations of providing patient care while simultaneously learning a new system. I let them vent, and I learned from their experiences.

Week by week, things will improve. I hope so, because EMR isn’t going away.

Did I mention that despite all of the controlled chaos at work, I brought a cake to work for my coworkers on my first day back? And that one of them found time to bring in flowers for me?

Remember: be nice to one another.

You Can Change the World 2K11

artist unknown. photo: jparadisi 2K11

Someone placed a sticker on our unit’s grease board. It reads, “You can change the world if you want to.”

Really? I think about how hard it is simply to keep peace among nurses during the course of a shift.

Throughout history, people have tried changing the world. Some accomplished extraordinary transformations through the persistent presentation of their ideas. Many suffered disastrous personal consequences for their efforts.”All we are saying, is give peace a chance” angers the hell out of some people. The list of eloquent, intelligent people who paid with their lives to enlighten the world is daunting, but peace is not promoted through silence.

A while ago, I noticed a patient reading Ken Kesey. The author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Kesey was raised in Eugene, Oregon.  He created the fictional character Nurse Ratched. The irony isn’t lost on me.

The poet John Donne wrote “I am a little world made cunningly of elements.” I wonder if the sticker on our unit’s grease board means by changing ourselves and our interactions with others, we become part of a world-changing collective; a sort of code team for the world? That feels a little more manageable. It beats waiting for the other guy to change, huh?