But I would walk 500 miles
And I would walk 500 more
Just to be the man who walks a thousand miles
To fall down at your door
Ok, I haven’t quite walked 500 miles, though a few days it’s felt like it. But I have reached sort of a milestone. I’ve worked over 500 hours as a tech in the Emergency Department. The PA programs I’m looking at require some sort of minimum number of “patient contact hours”. One only requires 750. The primary programs I’m looking at require 1000 hours. This has been the biggest single worry I’ve had in meeting my prerequisites. While there are a number of classes I need to take (and I’m almost done with those), this is the one that would take the most amount of time and was the hardest to line up.
But here I am, at the end of January and I’ve hit the half-way mark. This means that I’ll be well on my way to hitting the 1000 hours long before applications are due. So that’s good.
But, there’s more than that. Honestly, I’m loving it. Yeah, there’s a lot not to love. There’s cleaning up after patients. There’s being stuck in a zone with very little happening. One can get tired of doing their 20th EKG of the day and 17 nasal swab. But overall, I’m really liking it. And I think I’m getting better at it. I even “gave an order to a doctor” the other week.
Ok, let me be clear. Techs really don’t “give orders” to anyone. Sure we can ask another tech for help or even ask a nurse for help. But typically we’re the one being asked to do things. And we have no medical authority to “put orders into the system.” That said, we’re often closer to the patients and what’s going on with them than the doctors. This makes sense. We see the details, they see the big picture.
In this case though, several of us, including one of the residents, were cleaning up a patient that soiled herself. As I wiped, I noted she was raw and said she couldn’t feel when she was urinating, which meant she’d wet herself again without warning. This would only make things worse for her. When we were done, I turned to the resident and said, “I think you need to put in an order for a Foley (catheter).”
“Oh, you think so?”
“Yes, she can’t tell when she needs to urinate and ends up urinating without warning which ends up getting her skin irritated.”
Sure enough about 30 minutes later a nurse was putting in a Foley.
I’ve said we often do the scut work. Which is true, and a few people have thought that I was saying that as a complaint. It’s not. It’s an observation. We’re doing the little stuff that needs to be done that the nurses and doctors don’t have time to do or often won’t notice. That said, actually they often do notice. A nurse will go in to do something and see the well stocked IV cart and thank one of us. Or they’ll ask for something and we’ll already have it in our hand, knowing they’ll need it. Again we’re thanked.
Last night for example, I spent probably close to two hours restocking IV cabinets. I’m not sure the last time that day they had been restocked, but some were pretty barren. When I was done, it felt good knowing that the next time a nurse went into the room to start an IV or do some other procedure, they’d have the tools they needed right there.
Then of course, there’s the big stuff. Helping out with a stroke page or a “leveled” trauma. This is where the experience comes in and I’m definitely 500 hours more experienced than I was just over three months ago. I still don’t have my “red badge” so I can work trauma’s on my own, but I’m getting the experience. And it feels good.
All this is a means to an end, getting the required hours to apply to PA school. But it’s also been great. I’m very grateful I’m getting the experience in an ED where my day can vary from restocking carts to handling not one, but two trauma patients in the same evening. And that was just one shift. In other shifts I’ve helped with multiple traumas.
Hopefully not just the quantity of hours, but the quality of the work will help my application. But no matter what, I’m still enjoy it.
Disclaimer: my works do not in any way reflect my Standard Disclaimer: my writings do not reflect the views of my employer, the Albany Medical Health System. In addition, any errors in the above descriptions are my own and nothing here should be taken as medical expertise or advice.
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