Skip to content

The Noise an Owl Makes

May 14, 2012

Who am I?

I am a health science major comfortable with undebatable concepts, equations, and scientific processes, not writing. I volunteer in a hospital where I view everything between doctor-patient interaction, surgeries, births, and anything related to hospital life. (Just don’t visualize my experiences like House, but I’ll get into that later.) My goal is to be a physician’s assistant because I thrive on making people smile. I am happy if I see that I am making others happy. I am pragmatic, organized, kind hearted, and honest. These attributes will help me reach this destination.

So why am I keeping a blog?

I want to remember everything I have witnessed. I want to remember what it felt like to first change a diaper. I want to remember what it was like to see the staff save someone’s life. I want to remember what it felt like to see a baby born. I want to remember every trivial detail that I observe so that I can be a better physician’s assistant, able to show respect to patients and other members of the health care team. This blog will function like a diary and a place to keep my memories. As time goes by, it is easy to forget why you started something. I want to make sure I don’t forget why I chose to get into healthcare.

Advertisements

Life’s To Do List

May 14, 2012

Go to College ✓

Figure out what I want to do with my life ✓

Travel ✓

Make life-long friends ✓

Graduate College

Apply to Physician’s Assisting Master’s Program

Get into program

Graduate Program and pass PANCE test

Get a Job

Make a difference in someone’s life

Cure someone’s sickness/ailment/etc.

Save someone’s life

Break a stereotype that doctors are the only one’s who do it all

Travel More

Get Married

Be Happy ✓

Stay Happy

Be Me

Fact vs. Fiction

May 14, 2012

The reality of hospital life is not as glamorous as shows on television. After all, Grey’s Anatomy would be pretty boring if the writer’s focused on diaper changes instead of rare, incurable diseases and love affairs.  The twelve million people watching this show will never see incidents like this on T.V. and most people won’t even realize that five million members of allied health care do mundane tasks not suitable for television everyday. (Allied health professions are clinical health care professions distinct from medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy. Careers include nurses, athletic trainer, paramedic, physician’s assistants, physical therapists, ultrasound technician, occupational therapists, etc.) Why do doctor’s get all the good press? Although hospitals have a hierarchy, much like the hierarchy in high schools that does not mean that people lower on the totem pole do not deserve to be recognized.  In my eyes, Mean Girls does a good job explaining the different rankings: 

The Plastics:

Physicians are the queen bees of the hospital world. They set the rules (“On Fridays we wear pink!”) and are admired and idolized as superior.  Not every physician deserves as much respect as they do or to be perpetuated to this golden standard. For example, some doctors have the worst beside manner and are not always as bright in how to treat patients. (“She asked me how to spell

The Plastics
Source: http://calitreview.com/7466

orange.”) Although some have a heart and are supportive of their patients, frequently they don’t truly care for the patients’ well being. Even if a specific doctor does something bad to a patient or staff member, generally that patient will still keep doctors are a pedestal. (“One time she punched me in the face… it was awesome.”) Overall, physicians rule the hospital, just like the plastics rule high school.

The Greatest People You Will Ever Meet: Nurses are the best friends to patients. They know how to joke around, but can also listen to any of the patients’ fears. Nurses become the shoulder to cry on when family and friends can’t visit. Above all nurses build a relationship where they can be honest. (“You smell like a baby prostitute.”) Nurses are essential to any patient’s survival in the hospital.

Asian Nerds: The professions that are somewhat overlooked, but are definitely just as smart as physicians, include nurse practitioner, physicians assistant, physical therapists, and occupational therapists. They spend time studying the patient and reviewing patient history in order to get the complete picture. Generally, they are not are well-known to the public as physicians, but typically are just as qualified to diagnose and treat the patient accurately.

Cool Asians: Cool Asians in the hospital would be all of the important health profession that did not require as much schooling. These include respiratory therapists, phlebotomists, nurses’ aids, and radiation technicians. They are obviously much cooler because they didn’t spend half their life in school, like those in the Asian Nerds group.

Wannabees: The secretaries are the wannabees. They sit at a desk all day and really can’t do anything to treat the patient, except maybe deliver messages or send someone to help.

Varsity Jocks: Dispatch resemble the varsity jocks. They have little education, are on the verge of being meatheads (“Yeah! Take your top off!”) and mainly deal with transporting patients within the hospital or discharging them. Dispatch is very important because no one else can physically do some of the heavy lifting they do.

Freshmen: Otherwise known as fresh-meat, this would be the interns a.k.a. me. We are new to the hospital scene and don’t really know anything except to follow orders and do what we are told, just like high school freshmen. However, we observe everything happening with the upperclassmen, taking mental notes of the do’s and don’ts in patient care.

This may seem juvenile organizing such educated people in this way. However, I think it’s the easiest way to depict who you want to “be friends with”, or in other words be taken care of by. If you or a family member must stay in a hospital do not underestimate these unpublicized and “lower ranking” people on the health care team. They may not have parts on television, but they are the ones that care for the patients the most. A smile from someone in pain or a laugh from someone on his or her deathbed has a bigger impact on the people that form relationships with the patients (i.e. nurses), than the doctors that breeze in and out of rooms. As an aspiring physician’s assistant, this is one of the reasons that I, and those like me, will change diapers for free in the hopes that someday we will be a part of the allied health care team in order to see patients’ happiness in response to our care.

The Beatles- Doctor Robert

May 14, 2012

An ode to a doctor, however, I believe the word doctor can be replicable to any person in a health care position.

 

Ring my friend, I said you’d call

Doctor Robert

Day or night he’ll be there any time at all

Doctor Robert

 

Doctor Robert

You’re a new and better man

He helps you to understand

He does everything he can

Doctor Robert

 

If you’re down he’ll pick you up

Doctor Robert

Take a drink from his special cup

Doctor Robert

 

Doctor Robert

He’s a man you must believe

Helping anyone in need

No one can succeed like

Doctor Robert

 

Well, well, well, you’re feeling fine

Well, well, well, he’ll make you

Doctor Robert

 

My friend works for the National Health

Doctor Robert

Don’t pay money just to see yourself with

Doctor Robert

 

Doctor Robert

You’re a new and better man

He helps you to understand

He does everything he can

Doctor Robert

 

Well, well, well, you’re feeling fine

Well, well, well, he’ll make you

Doctor Robert

 

Ring my friend, I said you’d call

Doctor Robert

Ring my friend, I said you’d call

Doctor Robert

Doctor Robert

Facebook: Not Just a Social Media Site

May 14, 2012

Have you ever noticed how you feel after visiting the social networking site Facebook? Do you feel better about your appearance after viewing your Profile Pictures album? Are you sad when you see other’s posting updates about their fun Friday nights? When someone compliments or criticizes your profile picture, does it make you feel good or bad about yourself? Facebook usage has been proven to have psychological advantages and disadvantages for a person’s self-esteem. What was once created to connect people

from different walks of life, now influences how people feel about themselves. Facebook allows its’ users to share status updates, photos, and contact information easily with their “friends”, unlike other forms of communication. With more than 800 million users, it is one of the most popular and influential forms of social media. By using social networking sites, individuals are at risk of being exposed to stimuli that can increase or decrease their self-esteem.

A group of students was surveyed to see whether answers supported previous research on this topic. It appears that the majority has high self esteem, which may caused by Facebook. More elaborate research would need to be performed to see if Facebook, rather than other factors, causes high self-esteem. However, the free response question gave the greatest insight on participants’ feelings regarding Facebook and self-esteem. When asked, “Do you think Facebook has affected your self-esteem in any way? If, so how?”, twenty participants said no, nine said it has increased their self-esteem, and eleven said it has decreased their self-esteem. In the case of increasing self-esteem, one person states that getting friend requests or invited to a Facebook event makes them feel better about themselves. Another respondent states that having people positively comment on their activities boosts their self-esteem. In the case of decreasing self-esteem, one participant states that seeing other people invited to events that he or she wasn’t, takes a toll on his or her self-esteem. Also, another says,

Yes, it has decreased because I am constantly seeing pictures of girls my age who are trying to make themselves look skinnier, prettier, etc. and I know that since I don’t post scandalous pictures myself, they are looked at more and therefore perceived as “hotter” by others

However, the majority state that Facebook has had no effect on their-self-esteem so it is difficult to conclude whether this survey provides enough concrete evidence to determine if their is a trend towards Facebook decreasing or increasing self-esteem, even with the comments in support of both sides.

Facebook has been proven to both decrease and increase self-esteem, depending on how it is used.  However, it is difficult to conclude which is the stronger affect. For example, not everyone using Facebook is being cyberbullied, which is one of the ways to decrease self-esteem. The effects on self-esteem from this form of bullying can only be applied to those being harassed. In the same sense, if someone views his or her profile multiple times a day, it does not mean that his or her self-esteem definitely will increase. It really depends on a person’s self prior to creating a Facebook account. If a person joins the social networking site with an already low self-esteem, then they most likely will be affected negatively. The same effect would be for the opposite. How this popular website affects a user depends entirely on this person’s self before Facebook became a part of their life. It may eventually play a part in crafting the type of self-esteem after years of use, but further research would need to be completed to determine this. Rather than say that Facebook increases or decreases self-esteem, it is more sensible to say Facebook is related to self-esteem.

An Interview with Stacy McCoy

May 14, 2012

        In June 2007, Stacy McCoy said good-bye to her career as a third grade school teacher. The choice to retire was a difficult one for this woman who had worked for twenty-seven years, beloved by hundreds of students. After retiring, she began trying to find hobbies to occupy her time. After all, spending hours in class followed by grading papers and projects made Stacy used to a very busy lifestyle. Several months after retiring, her thirteen-year-old dog suddenly passed away. Stacy was stricken with grief as her life changed so much in less than a year. However, her husband began encouraging her to volunteer in some way because he knew that she found joy in helping others.

        Always an animal lover, Stacy began searching the Internet for volunteer programs involving animals. She stumbled across the Guide Dog Puppy Raising Program through Guide Dogs for the Blind, where volunteers essentially raise a puppy until they are a year old, then give them up so that can become guide dogs for the blind. Volunteers in this program typically teach the puppy basic obedience skills, socialize them, and make sure they are well traveled. The skills for working as a guide dog are taught following the puppy’s return to the organization.

         Stacy applied for the program and was accepted. She was overjoyed to have the distraction of a new yellow Labrador retriever puppy that was named Daisy. Daisy became her new companion, going with her wherever she went. Stacy could barely stand that she would have to return this lovable dog. However, by a stroke of luck, Daisy did not successfully complete guide dog training. A representative of the organization contacted Stacy and asked her if she would like to keep Daisy as a pet. Stacy agreed, without hesitation.

        Although Daisy had not completed training, she was still a very well behaved, obedient animal. Stacy needed to find a new hobby as well since she realized she would not be able to repeatedly give up more dogs under the guide dog program. A friend of Stacy’s suggested animal assisted therapy in order to use Daisy’s skills. Stacy found the program at Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), a short twenty minutes from her Fullerton home.

        I met Stacy just outside of CHOC’s entrance to interview her. We wandered into their cafeteria and I began asking questions. Stacy is the mother of a colleague where I work.

Moretta: So let’s get started. I’ll probably ask about 15 questions, but we’ll see how it goes and where we are on time. Ok. First off, what is animal assisted therapy?

 McCoy: Animal assisted therapy brings animals into the healing process. Typically dogs are the most common animals, but, um, I know that potbellied pigs are too and I’m not really sure about any others. I am sure more animals are used but don’t want to tell you something if it’s not true. CHOC only uses dogs, though.  Anyways, animals help staff get their job done and to… um… possibly help the patient to reach treatment goals or just to lower anxiety.

Moretta: How does an animal become a therapy, um, “assistant”? I don’t know if that’s how you refer to them or if there is a specific name or something.

McCoy: I don’t know for other animals, but I’m just going to talk about the process for dogs because that’s all I know. The dogs have to pass an obedience test. They also have to be at least a year old. Behavior and temperament is important as well because obviously you don’t want a dog that could potentially harm the children or anything like that. Once the dog passes the test, they can get registered with either Therapy Dogs International or um, what’s the name, hmm… oh, Delta Society and then they are able to work, or at least at CHOC they are allowed to work. I don’t know if other places have more restrictions or tests or anything like that.

Moretta: Can you tell me more about Daisy and what she does?

McCoy: Well, Daisy really is a lovely dog. I don’t know what I would do without her. She’s six years old. A yellow Labrador retriever. Basically, she visits kids who are… um… in the hospital for a long stays, or she visits kids that maybe have a broken leg or are here for a couple days, but she brings cheer to these kids.

The Race

May 14, 2012

Controlled chaos comes to mind during life and death situations. I have seen many races to save a person’s life. It feels just like when you are watching an action movie and you are biting your nails, sitting on the edge of your seat, and waiting with baited breath to see what happens. As I watch the nurses do everything necessary to save someone’s life, I can’t help wondering why these people don’t receive the least bit of gratitude from pop culture. They are like a NASCAR pit crew with the ability to seamlessly work together to change a tire in under five seconds. The nursing staff does this with patients of all ages and I have had the opportunity to see them in action many times.

It was an ugly, overcast day making the hospital rooms dark and grey. I was now volunteering in the Labor and Delivery floor, the Disneyland of hospital departments since it is the happiest place on earth. I was able to view vaginal births every shift and could partake in the gift of life. More than 4 million babies are born in the United States everyday, California having some of the highest rates of daily births. It was no wonder then, that today several mothers were on the floor, already in labor, anxious to push out that child. I visited one room. The father and mother were quiet focused on the task at hand: delivering their first child. The nurse had supervised the mother pushing and the baby was nearly out. The doctor, otherwise referred to as the “baby-catcher”, was called for the last stretch.

The doctor sat between her legs, the nurse and husband by her sides holding her hand. The mother began pushing during each carefully monitored contraction. The nurse cheered her during each strenuous push, telling her she could do it and that she was almost done. The father was subdued, casually glancing towards his wife’s feet periodically. After one large muscle contraction, the baby’s head was out, but it wasn’t over. The rest of his body came out and the small family took a first look at their child. The father took the scissors to cut the umbilical cord. Even though birth is supposed to be joyous, the air in the room changed upon seeing the baby boy.

The nurse took the child from the father. Several nurses that seemingly appeared out of nowhere huddled around the newborn. The baby had a foreboding tinge of blue. They quickly worked to suction fluid out of his nose and mouth as a timer ticks away. He has now been alive a total of forty-five seconds, but had yet to take his first breath. The mother lies on the bed, legs still in stir-ups not knowing that the son she has just delivered has not breathed yet. She is exhausted the doctor keeps her focused on him in order for her to push out the placenta. The father stands in the corner. His face is full of apprehension. He is unaware of what is causing all this noise and disruption. A red camera is in his hand at the ready to take countless photos of his son.  The timer ticks up this boy’s life to only a minute. A minute without a breath, a minute without oxygen, a minute without life. A nurse calls a Code Blue, the sign that this baby is dying. Although he was born, he has yet to be alive. The head nurse grabs the small facemask and begins tapping away on his chest, hoping to break up the fluid in his minuscule lungs. The crash cart is wheeled into the room in response to the code, just in case they will need to resuscitate him. Luckily, at a minute and thirteen seconds, the boy screams and begins crying, a normally discomforting sound that is glorious in this context. Everyone releases a communal breath, relieved that this child was not a fetal demise. The steady work from the staff saved this boy’s life. This baby was lucky. An estimated 2 million babies dies within twenty-four hours of birth. The nurses continue suctioning and tapping his chest to ensure that his life is permanent for as long as possible.

Once the baby is stable, he is wrapped in a baby blanket and placed on the mother’s chest. She is then told what all the commotion was about. She and the father had no idea, assuming this is what happens for every birth. The nursing staff clearly remained calm, exhibiting behavior that said, “This happens everyday.” It probably is a good thing they were so calm, otherwise I couldn’t imagine how the parents would react. The parents thank the nurses with gracious smiles as they walk out the door. One last nurse remains to pass out the identification bracelets to tie these three people together.