I wrote a post recently about how much guilt I have over saying no, even when I feel I'm justified in my decision. The example I gave was of a time a couple of years ago when there was a hurricane bearing down on us. I planned to only be in a few hours and then be able to leave with plenty of time to beat the worst of the storm, but then a fellow consultant asked if I could help out doing a few of her (non-urgent) consults. And I said no, that she should leave when she felt it was safe, and to save anything she couldn't do on her own till after the hurricane and I'd help then (which I did).
I posted about this situation mostly because I felt it was an example of a time when I was truly ridiculous for feeling guilty. Rehab consults are never things that can't wait a couple of days. And while I had a few hours before the really bad weather started up, it's not like at noon there's no hurricane and at one there's a raging hurricane. It's a progression of increasingly bad weather and there's proportionally more danger the later you leave. Most people didn't come to work at all that day, as I noticed when I was nearly the only car on the road in the morning.
Yet several people commented on the post that I should have felt guilty. That in an impending hurricane, I should have gone and done these non-urgent consults, and if I didn't, I wasn't a team player.
Is that really what people think? Is it really important to literally risk your life to be a team player?
Honestly, I'd hate for somebody to have to tell my children that their mom died in a car accident because she stayed in the hospital during a hurricane evaluating a guy with chronic knee pain impeding his therapy.
Sometimes the internet feels like a viper nest, there is never a nice word to be said. I feel really weird reciting the Bible here, but these quotes are commonground proverbs in my country, and I don't know if they are used in the US too: "We see the straw in the eyes of others and we do not see the beam in ours", "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her".ReplyDelete
Anyway, if I were that fellow doctor who asked for your help, I would hardly judge your teamwork skills on your rueful denial on a hurricane day. That's what everyday contact is for.
If, however, I were just reading about it in a couple paragraphs, as it actually was... Well. You went home on a rainy day and refused to help that poor colleague. I'm sure you do that every day. What if that patient with chronic knee pain had chosen that exact same day to start a sepsis and had died because of you? eh? eh? eh? What if his knee had fallen off because you were not there???
But I did mention in the post that I helped my colleague AFTER the hurricane.Delete
I do remember. Selective attention?Delete
It's always easy to criticize. I've seen a number of "superhero complex" types in medicine as well, although people usually get jaded and get out of it - you see it mostly at the pre-med stage. You know the type, the ones who seemingly live to put their lives in danger and self-sacrifice for others, but then denigrate anyone who is perceived as being at their level or above them for not doing the same (and often desire recognition for their sacrifices). Maybe those were some of your responders.ReplyDelete
I can see where some criticism might come from, but don't feel that there was enough information to say whether you did anything wrong. An impending hurricane threatens everyone, including the person who consulted you. An ultra-ideal "team player" approach would be that you help with their work so that everyone can leave earlier, a sort of "no man left behind" approach. Instead, you took a "every man for himself" approach. The reason why I don't think that you deserve criticism is because, as you mentioned in the original post, these were non-urgent consults. Would it have affected the other person's ability to leave earlier or later? More importantly, could they have left earlier on their own regardless of your actions?
That's a weird question to ask in itself. Are there any countries outside of America where we work ourselves to death and then feel that we need to risk our lives for our jobs even if nobody else's life is at risk?
It would have been a different situation if it was urgent work that HAD to be done... then I would have helped so that we could all leave at a reasonable time. But if the work could be postponed, I felt that was the better choice. If the other consultant felt some obligation to do non-urgent work during a hurricane and got in accident because of it, I don't feel like that should be on my shoulders because I made the safer decision.Delete
You said you feel guilty all the time for saying no. So there is a sense that you bail out of a lot of team work. Yet, yesterday you posted you needed a ton of coverage from work for attetnding your daughters 15 min birthday party in school. It is just so righteous to chose example when it is a hurricane roaring. I worked with a colleague who was part time (half my work time) and shifted her work on me when she was not there. I will never forget. We had children same age, yet I balanced everything, and she was always entitled. Even those couple days a week she worked she had to take time off for mommy breakfast with her 2 yo in preschool and such.ReplyDelete
I'm confused... this woman works 50% time, probably gets paid 50% as much as you do, yet you feel angry that you have to do more work than she does? That's what I'm reading into the little anecdote you gave. Maybe that's not the case, but if not, you can see how little snippets give on the internet don't portray an entire situation.Delete
Regarding my post yesterday (not even on this blog), the fact that I was so stressed out about the idea of asking for someone to cover me for even a brief time for a once a year activity ought to show how seldom I do such a thing. And for the record, I didn't end up asking for any help.
When you are balancing small children and a busy job, people are constantly making requests of me. You assumed they are all work-related. Many of the no's I give are to my own family members. I had to tell my parents no to a trip I was going to take to visit them, for example.
This person was eventually told by institution leaders and immediate boss to work exactly that - 50%, her share, and not 40%.Delete
Your solution to the problem was completely reasonable under the circumstances. You have no reason to feel guilty. You were a very nice colleague to help her after the storm passed.ReplyDelete
Wow, I'm glad I use google reader to keep up to date otherwise some of your commenters would take the joy out of reading your posts.ReplyDelete
In short you shouldn't feel guilty for setting boundaries- safety first.
Sorry but your kids and family are and should always be the priority any day ( acc to me !)ReplyDelete
Here is an example. Say there was a flood and you were on a little boat and there was only space for one more person . There was a random stranger and your child , both of them waiting to be rescued , who would you rescue ?
So you see family is and always has to have the priority .Patients are people who pay for your service , if they are disappointed they always have the options to change doctors how ever your kids have only one Mom and when they need them , they ought to be your priority if any one says otherwise then I feel that they suffer from a pseudo-Martyr-Hero complex .. Period
You definitely should not risk your life to do non-urgent consults in the name of some nebulous concept of teamwork. You absolutely did the right thing. And to the people who think you were wrong, I'm just wondering how useful they think you would be to your patients if you were dead?ReplyDelete