I'm talking to a patient in his room when his cell phone rings. He puts his hand up for me to stop talking and takes the call. "Hello?" he says. "Yeah, yeah, what do you want? I'm talking to the male nurse." He has a thirty-second conversation and then hangs up.
"Sir, I'm actually a doctor, not a nurse."
"I thought the other guy was the doctor."
"Yeah, we're both doctors."
"It seems like you do all the nurse stuff."
Four years of medical school, for this? I'm wearing a white coat. I have a stethoscope. What more can I do to look like the doctor?
My attending got a little annoyed at me today. A patient's brother asked why we'd stopped doing a certain treatment on the patient, and I said the attending decided it wasn't necessary. The brother wanted to know why, and saw the attending standing right outside the door-- so he went over and asked him.
The attending pulls me aside afterwards-- "why did you send that family member after me?"
"I didn't-- he was just asking--"
"Don't tell these people any more than you have to. They don't need to know our decision-making process. All they need to know is we're doing everything we can for the patient. I don't want anyone questioning what we're doing--"
"He asked specifically about that treatment--"
"And you tell him it's no longer the right treatment and you leave it at that. You don't say I decided something, or anyone decided anything. It's no longer the treatment. That's it. No questions. It's not our job to explain ourselves."
I mean, this guy is a good attending, and I think he's sort of right-- we don't want to explain every decision to every family member-- but when asked a real question I think they're entitled to a real answer, and to know what's going on. Even if it takes thirty seconds out of our day.
But I'm sure I will soon be jaded and sick of talking to family members and want to do everything I can to brush them off, like a real doctor.