The day-to-day job of any healthcare professional can tend toward the mundane and routine. In a post on allnurses.com, an intern at a pediatric cardiologist’s office describes a recent “a-ha!” moment when he paused in the middle of his usual routine and made a heartfelt connection with a young patient. He writes:
Running ECGs is relatively simple. I stick eight electrodes onto little bodies and hook them up to a machine. I type in birthdays, names, ages, and genders. I push a button. I wait. Children are told to be still, to not be nervous. Parents hold their breath as the pink sheet of paper slides out the machine. Zig zaggy lines travel up and down sheet in imposing black ink.
Is the treatment working? Is their baby’s heart getting stronger? Is the medicine that leaves their child bruised and tired doing its job?
I can’t answer any of those questions.
Thursday, when I was repeating this process for the umpteenth time that day, a sweet little girl looked up at me while I quickly read the unconfirmed analysis at the top of the page, “Is my heart all better?”
Mom straightened and look hopeful. I couldn’t answer that question. I am not educated enough to even guess.
My throat caught, “Hmm…I don’t know. The doctor will tell you when you go into consult.”
The little girl slumped against the crinkly paper on the exam table. I didn’t like my answer. The families that come through our office are often scared and confused, I couldn’t just spit out some unfeeling clinical jargon when a little girl asks me if her heart was better. The words seemed wrong …