This week was slow. Many of my patients do not have cars, so when it starts to snow, people just don’t come to their appointments. Our clinic has a general no-show rate of about 30%, but last week i had a few days with a no-show rate of approximately 70%. This enabled me to have long, tedious nursing interventions with every lucky patient who showed up on my schedule. Additionally, I am completely caught up on all of my charting, labs and patient phone calls.
Due to the weather, I don’t have any interesting stories from my last week at work. However, the extra time that I spent wandering aimlessly throughout the clinic led me to ponder my sad lack of real connections with my colleagues, particularly the medical assistants. Of all the groups at the clinic, I feel the most affiliation with the ma’s. The residents are too busy (and frankly, too boring) to cultivate friendships with. The nurses are friendly enough, but we don’t have much in common, and they seem to feel the gap between my role and theirs. The ma’s are the group I’ve always seen myself in: struggling to get by on crappy wages, snickering at the doctors behind their backs, joking and laughing to get through the day. But I’m not part of that group anymore. Instead I share an office with an older NP who is so sunny and sweet she could be June Cleaver, and another NP who has a wee baby and therefore is rightfully preoccupied with her life outside the clinic.
This comradeship gap is something I’ve been thinking about for a while, but something happened last week that made it painfully obvious. I have always assumed that my coworkers see me pretty much the same as I see myself: a young(ish), sarcastic, funny and reasonably cool person. However, it seems that my coworkers see me as an 30-something, white, upper-class woman who is completely out of touch with the youth of today. Why do I think this? Because one of the medical assistants (in fact, my favorite medical assistant) asked me if I know who Beyonce is. Excuse me? Do I not have a tv AND a radio? And eyes?
While my memories of being a medical assistant are as clear as day–or more accurately, as clear as the urine samples I used to process–I know that my coworkers don’t have a good idea of my history. They think I’m just another highly educated white person who commutes to work every day and eats her organic snacks in the break room (all true). How would they know that I went to a high school where students got stabbed in the halls? And how would they know that I used to live on an annual salary of $19,000 a year before I was a nurse? And even if they did know, they would probably also know that my experience is still not the same as theirs. I had a college degree when I was working as a medical assistant. I was just biding my time until I figured out how to take that next step into a higher tax bracket. And I don’t have any children–which, at 30, makes me somewhat of an anomaly in my clinic. Without children, I got to keep that whole $19,000 a year for myself, instead of having to spend it on diapers and formula. And now I own my own tiny little house in a “good” neighborhood, drive my own car and wear slacks instead of scrub pants. No wonder people think I’m too good to listen to Beyonce on the radio!
It’s a weird place to be, this professional island. I don’t feel like I’m on equal footing with anyone.