A Short SpouseTale, Because You Can’t Make This Stuff Up!
It occurred to me, as we have begun to write short blog-type snippets exclusively for DeW Life magazine, that I should perhaps go over some common language in our circle. In my mind, a great team knows their doctor(s). They understand the idiosyncrasies that are important to that individual. They are the “day wives.”
Chuck and I had been married less than a month when I sold my business and moved to the small town he lived and practiced in. We married after only a few months; adults who knew what they wanted. (We didn’t work together, so my tale isn’t juicy in that way!) I had just joined the practice, but his assistant of 10+ years had known him for years prior to that, in school and the community.
The Birth of the Term
My mind immediately went to “day wives” years ago, and here is how it happened. It happened when Chuck sneezed one day, and I offered the traditional, “Bless you!” When he sneezed the second time, I noticed that Lynnie, as we called her, almost rolled her eyes. Then there was a third sneeze on top of that, and Lynnie, said, “Bless you,” looked at me, and followed up with, “Three . . . he always sneezes 3 times.”
It was in that moment that “day wives” became part of my vocabulary, and I say it with the utmost respect. Yes, I felt a bit embarrassed at the moment. But it reminded me of myself and a doctor I had assisted early in my career. I knew things about my doctor’s behavior in a treatment room that his wife would have never known.
Making My Role Clear
I often interview new employees for our practice, and I let interviewees know that just because my husband and I are both contributors in the same practice, that doesn’t make me “the wife.” In fact, I prefer to be considered a colleague. Though I work hard to help make the practice better, I don’t have, nor want, any particular “management” responsibilities with respect to the team.
In our practice the team members are the “day wives,” and I say that with the utmost respect. It’s simply to imply that there is really no reason to ever come to me and ask me for clarity on something he might have shared. Better to go to him or a team lead. Since I am not in the office every day, it’s important I communicate this early on, so there’s no confusion. It’s important for a new hire to understand, I am not the “go to” for being off, changing something agreed to, or calling in sick.
My role is to support the team and function as the comprehensive care coordinator during complex cases and consultations. And in fact, I don’t get paid out of the practice. When I do training with the team, I’ll sometimes take a fee as I do from other clients. But it’s important to me that the team knows—when we present a large case or offer care, it’s not inspired by income for me. It’s just the right thing to do. We believe everyone should have an opportunity to say yes to the best, and I am one of the most knowledgeable about the care on our team. Our team would agree with this, which is why they will call and ask if I am available for certain appointments.
And the Day Wives?
So now you have a window into why I am very appreciative of the team’s “day wives.” I get great joy out of finding ways to show appreciation, because these are the people who grease team relationships. They know their team leaders in ways other people don’t. And that’a a good thing.
Now listen, you know someone reading this won’t appreciate the view. It’s okay! Even Baskin-Robbins knew they needed 31 flavors. As you read these stories in the days, weeks, and months to come you’ll recognize I won’t always agree either. It’s the reason Anne Duffy and I wanted—no, insisted—on sharing other spouse(s) tales from their experiences and not always mine. I’m just feeling blessed to be the messenger, because you can’t make this stuff up!