Please, pick up the phone and call the doctor if you can’t make it to the office.
It still amazes me how many grown adult team members won’t just pick up the phone and call the doctor when they are going to be out (at least in those private or smaller practices where the doctor is still very affected by the absence). In this short story, I’ll share a tale of a provider in a practice who just never called. It had been a week when the doctor asked their spouse, “what is it that I could have done to be so disrespected?”, as they wondered if the team would be calling patients again last minute to share that they had to move appointments. The only person with something to lose here was the doctor and the practice reputation.
Don’t get me wrong, there was a phone call, but not to the doctor. The team member had reached out in a panic about a family member’s medical emergency a week before. By the end of the second full day out of the practice, the doctor reached out by text. According to the team, this was the only way she could communicate and didn’t want to leave the family member’s hospital room. The message began with, “I’m sorry about your family member,” then asked what the expectation was. Were they supposed to guess what was next? Was she going to communicate with the doctor? How long was the team supposed to wait to guess what to do with the next day’s patients?
What happened next is shocking.
Let me be clear, I am talking about a “professional,” a provider who in fact was in her mid-40’s with grown children. A doctor who had not been contacted at all until they reached out. Thinking they had honored her by reaching out the way she had reached out to a teammate. Only asking for a call the second evening so plans could be made. After all, it was a small community and providers were not plentiful. Then it happened, just two short words in a reply text, “How evil.” Really? Was she serious? What is it that makes someone think that a doctor doesn’t have feelings? What is it that makes some perceive that the doctor will figure it out? Why in the world would someone do this?
Some of you reading this will say, “there is more to this,” or “she is not sharing everything.” You are absolutely right. There is more to it and I’m not sharing everything because it is a week later and NO ONE on the team has heard a word. There have been, however; several emojis as the team has reached out to share they are praying for the team member and her family. It is addressed in this particular employee handbook, “If you are going to be out, you can text your workmate. You must call the doctor.” Did I mention this team member has only been on the team for two months? It seemed at first that the team was very empathetic to the new member. Now, a week later, they are tired of taking up for her and moving patients at the last minute.
Moral of the story.
Many reading this will judge me for writing it and the doctor, who will go unnamed, as being responsible. We live in a society that believes that a text message is communication. It is not the same and doesn’t carry the same emotion or impact. This is not as uncommon as you think. I hear these stories all the time.
The short takeaway, please, just pick up the phone and call your doctor. But, only if your reputation, patients, and career matter to you. You really can’t make this stuff up!
If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy my other SpouseTales Snippets.