Nice demeanor

A colleague of a specialized discipline from a different hospital passed a comment to me today. He said,

” wow.. you guys are pretty ‘relaxed’ for someone who is part of the anaesthetic team “

When he said you guys – it was referring to me and my one and only working partner in the field – and when he said we were relaxed.. I kinda knew what he meant. That means in face of obstacles and unpopular circumstances in the operation theatre – my partner and I rarely exhibit aggressive behaviors like screaming or rolling our eyes at the surgical team and stuff. Or cancel a scheduled elective list like it can be done tomorrow sorta thing without a two way and mutual discussion.

My determination to maintain a cool hat and ‘being nice’ to other people stemmed from when I was a houseman in Kuching. One particular oncall night stood out. I was in my 5th posting as a surgical houseman (HO) and I was posted to the neurosurgical ward. I was oncall with a very motivated and nice Neurosurgical Medical Officer (MO). At the same time, coincidentally – most of the other Medical Officers of various discipline that night including the Anaesthesia Team had genes of a Saint. Everyone was so damn nice, polite and kind to each other which was evident during referrals. Even to this little non significant HO!!!! As a HO I felt confident, safe and urge to do more for my patients. I wanted to please these kind MOs working with me that night. Anaes required at least 2 large bore branula, I gave them 3. You want me to trace the result STAT .. I will bug the lab technician to run it fast. My MO even sat with me at the pantry while we have our quick 5 min meal and asked if I had prayed – he did not have to cause he is not muslim but he did! Although most of our patients that night were critical and semi-dying – none died and hung on to the dear life until the coming morning. I couldn’t help leaving work the next day at 7PM thinking how nice the world of medicine would be for the patients if everyone can work well with each other and stress more on them rather than thinking, “ayo.. that lioness is oncall ah.. susahlah nak refer” or ” aiyo.. she likes to marah people one.. you lah refer” and the game of ping-pong begins in ED.

When I became an MO myself in the Anaesthesia department – I find that by being accommodating – people can cooperate and work better with you. As an anaes MO at the time especially when working in ICU, I’d be receiving referrals to intubate a difficult patient or asking for a ventilator or to review a potential ICU patient in the emergency unit or wards. When we are ‘friends’ with those from other disciplines, it is easier to discuss options and demands. It is easier to refer earlier for the health and safety of the patient. It is easier for these friends to understand why the operations needs a certain amount of blood products or why ICU cannot accept a patient. There’d be less bickering and pointing fingers. Plus, naturally we would want to do more for our ‘friends’ kan. And we want our friends to have an equally good call.

On top of that, if we exhibit concern and educate our supporting staff accordingly, it is easier to get a message across.To share and idea or sentiment. Thus reinforces on patient care. If the environment is conducive and pleasing, we will then be able to see how various people of different levels respond – the lazy ones left behind but the opportunist would learn more and better themselves. I will hear more of my porters being able to report to me saying ‘hey doc.. this patients white cells are high’ instead of just collecting the results and staple them. I am always happy when my nurses are able to point out a patients potassium level is deranged when the results reach them first and not just file them for us to review later. I am more delighted when my medical assistants with many years of experience are able to guide me through a difficult process – medicolegal aspects of things and such.

I hope to keep this ‘menyenangkan demeanor‘ around for long time. I’m no angel. I have lost my temper before – I have raised my voice before towards staff, patients and relatives but towards late.. the incidence have decreased tremendously. Perhaps I’m getting old.

A toast to a nice demeanor. cheers.