I have gained a whole new respect for two different professions in the last several weeks.
The first field is one for which I have always had an appreciation, even before my sister took her place in it. I have always admired and respected nurses for the work they do, but even more so now. Doctors seem to get all the glory, but the nurses appear to do most of the work. Only a doctor can prescribe medications and certain treatments, but it's the nurses who really know what is needed. After my mother-in-law's surgery, I watched a nurse manage the care of several patients in the recovery room. She told the doctor (a resident who was probably born AFTER the nurse started practicing) what to do in order to discharge my mother-in-law to her room, and she reminded him to call the anesthesiologist, who had called to check on mother-in-law (he still didn't call - he forgot).
Nurses are the ones who communicate most with the family, and they are the ones who truly understands the patient's (and the family's) concerns. The doctor told us we would need to come back downstairs to her office to pick up a prescription, and the nurse had already sent it to the pharmacy via computer.
I'm not knocking doctors by any means. I appreciate the years and years and years of training they go through in order to take care of the rest of us. But if you measure their contact with patients compared to that of the nurses, there's no contest. I think we should flip-flop the pay of nurses with that of doctors based on minutes of patient contact alone.
We had the opportunity last week to meet four different nurses who work with home health care. One was the primary nurse in charge of administering fluids to mother-in-law in her home, and two others were additional folks she had to call to see if THEY could find a vein in mother-in-law's dehydrated body. (The third one was the charm.) The fourth nurse was the one on night duty who came to take down MIL's i.v.. fluid because I hadn't been trained (yet) to do it. When she left that night, she hugged me, then she hugged MIL and kissed her on the cheek. How sweet was that?
As I typed to my sister today, I don't know how they do what they do all the time.
The other group of awesome folks I've only recently come to appreciate is kindergarten teachers. My friend with whom I've been volunteering at an elementary school is the media specialist at her school. Most of the time teachers sign up to bring their classes to the media center, Jennifer reads them a story and has them do some sort of activity, and they go on their merry way. That's sort of true for the kindergarten class, except because this class was added late in the school year, the teacher pretty much drops them off and retreats for the only 45 minutes of relative sanity she gets in a school day. In one 45-minute period, Jennifer has to keep the kindergarten students on their squares, keep them from talking all at the same time, tell them as a group and individually that now is not a good time to go get water, repeat the rules about behavior in the library, read a story, hear fifty-two different versions of what the kids did over the __________ (weekend, break, holiday, last five minutes), keep them from hitting each other, hand out tissues, listen to each and every incident of tattling, have them complete an activity related to the book they just read, and somehow manage to do all that without slitting one of their little throats. Or her own wrists.
Oh, and she's expected to meet learning objectives.
With kindergarten students.
Every. Single. Day.
For forty-five interminable minutes.
I stayed late to help her with the little squirrels today, and she posed the question, "Can you imagine what it's like to have them all in a classroom ALL DAY LONG?" (Except for the 45 minutes they go to the library, when I wouldn't blame the teacher one bit for having a flask in her desk drawer.)
A huge, huge tip of the hat to kindergarten teachers. May you live long enough to win the lottery.