What do you want from your Unit Secretary?

  1. 0
    I posted awhile ago asking whether it was better to start in CCU or on a Med/Surg floor. I decided that even though I was comfortable and loved my job where I was, I'd go for one in the CCU where I want to work someday and learn as much as I can, get to know the system, etc. before I get through nursing school rather than hit a floor fresh as a new grad with no clue what I was in for. Well, I got the job and start in a few weeks!

    I'm excited but nervous at the same time. It's always hard being the new person and it took about a year at my job before anyone would even bother talking to me. 5 years later I'm hesitant to leave for that reason, but know it's the best thing for my career.

    My question to you all - What makes a fantastic unit secretary for you? What do you expect from us? What ****** you off?
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  4. 15 Comments so far...

  5. 7
    our "secretaries" are illiterate. i'm not kidding. we have two and i have no definite proof that either of them can read or write. there's plenty of evidence that they can't.

    please spell our names correctly. it's irritating when someone who has worked with us for a year cannot spell our names. if you can't remember if my name is spelled "ruby" or "rubie" or "rubi", please check the phone list or the staffing sheet or my name tag.

    if you call me to the phone for a call on line 1, please be sure that (1) it's really me you want, (2) the call is really on line 1 and (3) it's not something you could easily have addressed without dragging me out of my isolation room where i was trying to keep my deranged patient from stripping naked and ripping out all of his lines. ("what are your visiting hours?" comes to mind. or "is patient jones still in room 3?")

    if you call me to the phone while my patient is trying to die, please make sure it's someone i actually need to talk to. a physician calling with orders is someone i need to talk to. the lab wanting to know whether the specimen was drawn at 14:13 or 4:13 is not. neither is the patient's cousin wanting to know how he's doing.

    answer the phone. it's your job. facebook and ebay can wait. really.

    be very careful with what you announce overhead. "ruby, the pharmacy is holding on line 2" is ok. "ruby, the funeral home is holding on line 1" is not. (yes, it's happened.) by the same token, if you're going to argue with your so on the phone at the desk, please make sure the intercom is off. (that's happened, too.)

    i'd love a secretary who tried to be helpful. if you've got time to look at facebook, don't roll your eyes at me if i ask you to call central supply and ask them to send up a commode. or if i ask you to walk down to blood bank to pick up the six units of rbcs i need. if all of the nursing staff is busy, you can surely field some of the phone calls for us. if microbiology calls to tell us the final results of the blood cultures from three days ago, and i'm struggling with a new admission or a taxing orientee, give them the physician's pager number. or, if you're allowed to in your hospital, take a message. (if you do take messages, please make sure someone -- especially you -- can read it.)

    understand that we all have bad days and if i snap at you i'm sorry . . . don't make me pay for it for the next five years. either accept my apology or let's talk about it privately, but refusing to speak to me is just not professional. (secretary hung up on mom's doctor after i'd been trying to reach him for days to get some paperwork signed for her transfer to assisted living. she didn't know of a dr. goody, and knew my patient didn't need a memory specialist -- so she hung up. yes, it was a personal call and no, i shouldn't have bitten her head off when i found out and yes, i did apologize and no, she didn't speak to me for the last three years of her employ.)

    gotta go do some actual work now -- hope this helps.
    maelstrom143, tcvnurse, Iowa RN2006, and 4 others like this.
  6. 2
    LMAO - Holy cow, hope you feel better now!

    There are good secretaries out there but reading your post makes me realize why I'm so appreciated at my current job.

    I always run interference on phone calls from lab/pharmacy/staffing/supervisor/families/even doctors when I can. I've been there long enough that a lot of the doctors will just ask me for their pts lab and rads results rather than wait for a nurse. Depending on the nurse in question, some of the docs would rather talk to me. I assign beds, keep track of the census, attend bed briefing, run to lab/blood bank/pharmacy/css/other departments if we need something quickly or just for routine stuff if I'm not busy. I order all of the office supplies for the floor, deal with nursing administration, environmental services, set up discharges, arrange transport and try to take as much off of the nurses that as possible. There is no FB or Ebay - If I'm slow, I ask the nurses what I can do to help them out. If there's nothing, then I read through pt charts, go through lab results, etc.

    I will not, however, go out of my way to help nurses that treat me like crap on a regular basis. The nurses who see me struggling with 4 phone lines ringing, multiple pt calls going off, a list of docs to put calls out to, 10 charts in the rack, and 5 people at the desk and come up to me and stand next to a pager list and telephone and tell me they need me to page respiratory for a treatment for room XXX then throw a big dramatic fit when I tell them that I can't at the moment, but if it can wait to put it on the list telling me that I just sit up there and don't do anything anyways and do I want to pass their meds for them... Who proceed to SIT THERE AND WATCH ME PUT THE PAGE OUT FOR THEM when I get so annoyed that I stop everything else that I'm doing just to get them away from me. The ones that want me to clock back in while I'm on my way out the door to put their new stat transfusion orders into the computer when they're perfectly capable. The nurses that complained to management when I'd study for A&P exams that I had in the am during my down time while they sat at the desk bs-ing, texting, and on Facebook on their phones - THOSE nurses can deal with their own family calls, pharmacy/lab/radiology bs (CT: "is the pt NPO? Site/gauge of the IV?" Pharmacy: "Does this say BID or QID?", Lab: "Does the doctor REALLY want this drawn now? It's a send out, anyways", Family: "I keep calling and he's not answering - Why?", Doctor: "Has this consult seen the pt yet?", staffing: "what's your census?")

    PHEW - I feel better now!!!
    tcvnurse and virgo,student nurse like this.
  7. 2
    Answering the phone promptly. I hate the incessant ring of a phone.
  8. 3
    Quote from wantccu
    lmao - holy cow, hope you feel better now!

    there are good secretaries out there but reading your post makes me realize why i'm so appreciated at my current job.

    i always run interference on phone calls from lab/pharmacy/staffing/supervisor/families/even doctors when i can. i've been there long enough that a lot of the doctors will just ask me for their pts lab and rads results rather than wait for a nurse. depending on the nurse in question, some of the docs would rather talk to me. i assign beds, keep track of the census, attend bed briefing, run to lab/blood bank/pharmacy/css/other departments if we need something quickly or just for routine stuff if i'm not busy. i order all of the office supplies for the floor, deal with nursing administration, environmental services, set up discharges, arrange transport and try to take as much off of the nurses that as possible. there is no fb or ebay - if i'm slow, i ask the nurses what i can do to help them out. if there's nothing, then i read through pt charts, go through lab results, etc.

    i will not, however, go out of my way to help nurses that treat me like crap on a regular basis. the nurses who see me struggling with 4 phone lines ringing, multiple pt calls going off, a list of docs to put calls out to, 10 charts in the rack, and 5 people at the desk and come up to me and stand next to a pager list and telephone and tell me they need me to page respiratory for a treatment for room xxx then throw a big dramatic fit when i tell them that i can't at the moment, but if it can wait to put it on the list telling me that i just sit up there and don't do anything anyways and do i want to pass their meds for them... who proceed to sit there and watch me put the page out for them when i get so annoyed that i stop everything else that i'm doing just to get them away from me. the ones that want me to clock back in while i'm on my way out the door to put their new stat transfusion orders into the computer when they're perfectly capable. the nurses that complained to management when i'd study for a&p exams that i had in the am during my down time while they sat at the desk bs-ing, texting, and on facebook on their phones - those nurses can deal with their own family calls, pharmacy/lab/radiology bs (ct: "is the pt npo? site/gauge of the iv?" pharmacy: "does this say bid or qid?", lab: "does the doctor really want this drawn now? it's a send out, anyways", family: "i keep calling and he's not answering - why?", doctor: "has this consult seen the pt yet?", staffing: "what's your census?")

    phew - i feel better now!!!
    well, i did feel better until i read your post and found out how much more secretaries can do! who knew?
  9. 0
    Aww, sorry! You made me feel better, though... I hope the secretaries on the unit I'm going to are as big of idiots as the one on your unit - I'll have it MADE!
  10. 1
    Things I need from the unit secretary:

    1--Answer the DANG PHONE! Don't act like you don't hear it. I'm NOT coming out of my room to answer a phone

    2--Do your best to run interference on telephone calls. Find out who it is and what they want. Is it really something that they *must* speak to me or can they speak with any RN? Do they even NEED to speak to an RN in the first place? Just don't make me run all over the place answering calls that are half of the time nothing that truly needed me to answer.

    3--Help out in whatever way you see that you can help....THINNING charts, answering phones, keeping the desk organized, helping visitors, etc.

    The nurses are extremely busy on most units and we really appreciate a GOOD secretary. I used to work with a secretary that would call in our food orders before the night got busy for her so that we were able to eat.....it was a high acuity trauma ICU with 3 patient assignments as the scheduled norm....
    tcvnurse likes this.
  11. 1
    Wow I'm feeling lucky that my unit has some GREAT secretaries, along with great coworkers... I think the majority of us view the secretary as just another part of the team, another coworker in the battle to keep our patients alive.
    For example, if I hear the phone ring and see the secretary is on the other line already, I'll answer the phone (given that I'm not busy doing something else). If I know we just had two new admits and she's busy trying to get all that stuff in, I'll enter in my new orders myself and let her know. It's called TEAMWORK, it makes me sad that so many units seem to lack it.
    Our secretaries are anything but lazy.... they do their jobs quickly and efficiently so that I can do my job the same. I've realized how much of a boon it is to have an experienced secretary when we've have float sec's come in sometimes to cover... who don't know how to enter in orders that are specific to our unit, etc. I'm in a med/surg ICU, so timing can be a HUGE issue when you have a patient trying to circle the drain.

    Best wishes in your new unit, hopefully it'll end up being a good environment to work in!
    wantccu likes this.
  12. 0
    Thank you! I think that will be my biggest obstacle in the move - different order sets. What are frequent order sets that you guys use? I don't come from a cardiac floor, so the most I usually get are chest pain sets (enzymes,troponin, abgs,ekg,cxr) and pacer checks, echos, etc.
  13. 0
    Wow...you guys just made me really nervous lol. I have an interview for unit secretary/monitor tech position on a medical telemetry floor. I'm currently an ADN RN student and wanted to gain some experience in this field. Does anyone know how much they make an hour? What all is involved? I'm a nervous wreck!!!!


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