Sunday, March 20, 2011
Weekly Whine: Pick up the phone!
The above cartoon demonstrates why I never answer the phone on the ward. I figure it's not my job and I shouldn't be answering if I don't know what to do with the calls. I never even answered the phone at the nursing station if I was pretty sure it was for me, because what if it wasn't? This philosophy has served me well for many years.
However, lately I've been feeling pressured to answer the phone. It seems like on the ward where I work, the rule that only designated people may answer the phone does not seem to hold. In fact, I've been embarrassed a few times when I've been sitting near the ringing phone at the nursing station and some other random person (a therapist, PA, etc) rushed to answer it.
That said, the person who did answer the phone usually ended up on some wild goose chase, which I really, really don't have time for. I recently overheard a PA mumbling to herself, "Why do I answer the phone? Why??"
Also, I haven't actually seen another doctor answer the phone.
I don't know what to do. Do I waste my time answering the phone and end up wasting chunks of time fielding calls, when my job is to see and treat patients? Or do I risk looking like a primadonna who will sit by a ringing phone and let someone else answer it?
Labels: weekly whine
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I am totally with you! I am a therapist who floats around to different hospitals every day and I NEVER answer any phone, because I'm pretty darn sure I won't be able to answer the question and I have no idea how to forward a call.ReplyDelete
The other day I was the ONLY person in the therapy office at a site where I had only worked once before. The phone next to my computer rang all morning long, and I just let people keep running in to answer it!
Honestly, I figure all that's going to happen if I answer it is I'm going to give the person the runaround saying "let me find someone who can answer that question" and the caller will get frustrated with me. So I feel I am providing excellent customer servce by letting it ring.
Phones are just problematic. As a general rule, I hate them.ReplyDelete
So I'm a big fan of the primadonna route, Fizzy. The worst that can happen is the occasional dirty look. (But again, I'm biased.)
I answer the phone if I've paged someone to a specific number AND THAT PARTICULAR NUMBER is ringing on the phone. I never page to the main number.ReplyDelete
Otherwise, never in 1,000,000 years would I answer the phone.
I don't think I've ever seen a doc answer the phone in the ED. It isn't really expected so most people don't get annoyed, I don't think.ReplyDelete
I understand why for the most part, though I must admit that sometimes it is irksome when you're behind a curtain getting a line in a 2 y.o and the EMS phone is ringing off the hook with the MD sitting beside it, not answering.
In my last ED there was no clerk at the nursing station so we were constantly answering the phone. So much so that 2 months later the phone rang at my house (before my coffee) and I answered it, without thinking, "Emergency, this is ABB".
The thing is, I usually have at least some idea what to do with calls, since I've worked there a while. But it usually involves some sort of witchhunt that consumes several minutes of my time and being interrupted from doing the work I'm getting paid to do.ReplyDelete
Hm, you could always ask the people that are supposed to answer the phone what the phone etiquette should be. Voice your dilemma to find a solution. Or at least, figure out how to put people on hold until you can page the appropriate person who has time for the witch hunt =)ReplyDelete
I wouldn't expect any of our docs on the floor to answer the phone- unless I paged someone to the line they're right in front of, at their request. They have other stuff to do!ReplyDelete
OMDG nailed it. That is the correct answer.ReplyDelete
Indeed witch-hunts are major time-sinks. I got drunk with power when I learned how to overhead page, thus eliminating the running around part.ReplyDelete
Plus I enjoyed shocking people with my mad-telephone-answering-skillz. =)
Not your responsiblilty to answer it, then don't do it, besides, exactly as you said, you're likely to just be sent on a wild goose chase anyway.ReplyDelete
I will admit that one does feel pretty awkward sitting by the constantly ringing phone, while your busy coworkers glare at you.
Hmm, I'd personally avoid sitting beside the phone/nursing station. Guilt solved! :DReplyDelete
I'd only start answering the phone if the unit secretaries start answering my pages.ReplyDelete
I love to answer the phone in my emerg in the odd moment I am not busy! I answer, say HOLD PLEASE! then use our over head pager to page whoever it is for, UNIT CLERK YOU HAVE A CALL ON LINE #3, LINE #3...ReplyDelete
I feel this is some form of subtle revenge for the incessant overhead pages that I get every 5 minutes.
If you are going to try this it is important that you only ever say Hello or hold please to the person calling.
I work in the ICU and our unit is divided into "pods" with one desk in between 2 rooms. I don't have a problem with MDs not answering the general "unit" phones at the workstations, but it annoys me to no end if we're in the middle of a crisis in a room, they're at the pod writing orders (or just sitting there), and the phone rings. 9.999999 times out of 10 it's for somebody in the room, and we have to de-glove and sanitize before we can rush out to answer the phone that's been ringing for 3 minutes with an MD sitting there right next to it. Generally they're staring at it, I guess wishing that mental prowess would make it stop...ReplyDelete
Aaron: If I could overhead page, it might be different...ReplyDelete
Kayla: Now you see why physicians don't answer though! We've all been reprimanded at some point in training for answering the phone inappropriately.
SeaSide: I'd love to avoid the nurse's station, but sometimes it's the only seat there is.
I think it's really important not to sit next to a phone if at all possible. If you have to sit next to one, sit with your back toward the phone. If you get busted on or if someone gives you a dirty look, it's important to look as if you were too deep in thought to have even noticed something as trivial as a phone ringing.ReplyDelete
Alice: But if I don't sit next to a phone, then I have to get up every time I need to make a call or return a page, which is potentially just as annoying. Plus I intermittently dictate.ReplyDelete
Here's my solution. I pick it up if I think it's for me and if not, I say "hang on" and then hang up the phone.ReplyDelete
ERP: Shh, don't tell anyone, but if I try to pick up the phone to make a call and find out I answered the call of someone who was trying to call, I just hang up on them without saying a word.ReplyDelete
Don't answer the phones, and don't mess with the IV pumps please. We nurses have a system going, and it's too complicated to decipher for mere doclings. Thanks.ReplyDelete
Actually, today the phone was ringing on the ward, and three doctors and an NP totally ignored it. The NP finally said, "Is there a nurse around?" When there was no response, we all continued to ignore it. So I think that's what's expected.ReplyDelete
Meh, just as well you don't answer, Our OB unit is locked and visitors have to ID themselves and be let on the unit...you know where THAT's going ;-)ReplyDelete
Hmm, having a receptionist will do wonders, especially during emergency cases. I mean, if everyone's being busy, who will be left to answer the phone properly? And since every phone call counts, it's just a big no-no to ignore every phone call, right?ReplyDelete