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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

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.

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