What doctors can do in 12 minutes

I’m still moved by what I learned the day I shadowed a private practice.

For example, that day I got a glimpse of the extended care doctors give their patients who need their help.

The doctor I was observing was preparing for his next patient when his phone rang. It was a very worried young man.

“It was the grandson,” the doctor explained, “his grandmother is my patient. She sustained a bad fall and is being cared for by hospice.”

A devoted grandchild, I felt my eyes water remembering the familiar scene of illness, hospice, and helplessness.

I watched as the doctor dialed a number and held the receiver to his ear.

“Yes,” he said, “I need the on-call hospice nurse to call me stat. That’s S.T.A.T,” he specified. He explained the urgency to the answering service, hung up, and dialed a second number.

“Hello, this is Dr. X. I’m calling on behalf of Mrs Y. I need the on-call neurosurgeon to call me immediately,” he said.

Thirty seconds passed before his phone rang. It was the on-call hospice nurse.

“But why was the neck brace removed?” he asked. His tone was full of concern. “Please keep me informed,” he replied and hung up.

The doctor returned his attention toward preparing for his next patient in examining room 1 when the phone rang again.

It was the on-call neurosurgeon.

“Thank you doctor,” the doctor said, “I just want to make sure she won’t have continued pain or cause further injury if she doesn’t wear the neck brace,” the doctor stressed.

The entire collaboration took 12 minutes. About the time for an average visit.

I fell off of a horse when I was three years old. I remember how long 12 minutes felt back then. The same 12 minutes in the ICU watching my grandfather fade felt like 12 years. Twelve minutes on the day my favorite great grandmother died was more like 12 seconds.

Everything that happened in those 12 minutes of clinical collaboration made me realize how much this team fights for us regardless of what room we’re in; the waiting room, examining room, emergency, or our own bedroom.

They’re heroes and heroines who fight for us when we won’t, or can’t fight for ourselves, around the clock.

I’m honored to be at Elation and fighting for them.