"When was the last time I wow'ed a patient?"

by Mully 19,850 Views | 75 Comments

I recently went to a job interview and one of the first questions I was asked is, "When was the last time you wow'ed a patient?" Up until this point I thought the interview was going pretty well. I had worn my nicest suit, shaken my interviewers hand firmly when meeting, smiled when appropriate, and all of the rest of the textbook niceties of the dreaded interview.

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    "When was the last time I wow'ed a patient?"

    I recently went to a job interview and one of the first questions I was asked is, "When was the last time you wow'ed a patient?" Up until this point I thought the interview was going pretty well. I had worn my nicest suit, shaken my interviewers hand firmly when meeting, smiled when appropriate, and all of the rest of the textbook niceties of the dreaded interview. I'm usually quite calm in situations like these. I have a natural desire to be on stage, to act, to have the attention on myself. When this is the case, I usually perform to the best of my ability, manipulating my audience into loving what I love, hating what I hate, and most importantly, becoming smitten with me.

    Then there was this question.

    When was the last time I wow'ed a patient?
    I thought to myself. Picture the depths of the ocean floor. Picture the dark side of the moon. Imagine the inside of your eyelids. These things all resembled the thoughts that were coming to my mind. Nothing. I could think of absolutely nothing.

    What does he want me to say? That I brought a box of donuts to my patient once? That I did cartwheels in the room or juggled flaming wands? Oh I know! I once put my entire fist inside my mouth! That really wow'ed Betty and her COPD exacerbation! Wow'ed her right to health!

    On my way home from the interview I reflected on what that question could even mean. I thought about the fact that our hospitals are becoming more and more customer service oriented. They're no longer patients (that's an ugly word) - they're clients. It's no longer acute renal failure (that might hurt the kidney's feelings) - it's acute kidney injury. These are the types of changes many people within our health care systems spend their time making. These things are what we consider important.

    What about the time I sent 200 volts pulsating through a man's body to bring him back from the dead? I think that probably wow'ed him! What about the time I stood silently in a room while a demented patient in restraints screamed about how much she hated me. What about the times that I've yelled at my patients to sit down because they were unsteady and medically unsafe to walk. Or the times when I've had to firmly remind my patients that while they are on my unit, I am the boss. Did these moments wow the patients? Maybe. Is that really our goal? To wow all the patients?

    I've concluded that it's not about how customer service oriented we are with our patients. It's now about how politically correct we are. It's about being a good nurse, which stems from a desire to truly help people. When you care about people, you care about not offending them. You care about going the extra distance for them. You choose to do things like go to another unit to get chocolate pudding because you know they'll like it better than the vanilla, or take the time to grab the lotion and put it on their feet even at the end of your shift. Sometimes you do things like tell a patient what they don't want to hear. Sometimes we hurt patients, physically, emotionally, mentally, all for their own greater good. Sometimes patients aren't wow'ed. Sometimes they're healed.

    I didn't get the job. They went with someone who was "more qualified". That didn't exactly wow me. Maybe though, this is a time when I'm not supposed to be wow'ed. I want to get the right job, on the right unit, in the right hospital, in the right city. Not getting this job did hurt a little, but maybe it's supposed to. Maybe we're not meant to be wow'ed all the time. Maybe we go through some hurt every now and again for our own greater good. When was the last time I wow'ed a patient? I don't know. Next question.
    Last edit by Joe V on May 31, '13
    libbyliberal, TomGuy, bcolon, and 37 others like this.
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  3. About Mully

    Mully joined Nov '10. Mully has 'A few' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'SICU'. Posts: 225 Likes: 719; Learn more about Mully by visiting their allnursesPage


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    75 Comments so far...

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    To kind of toot my own horn here....

    I wow patients every single day I work. I'm an amazing nurse (despite my inferiority complex as an LPN). I say I know this because I receive more compliment cards than any other individual nurse at my ER. I put an NG tube down a guy 2 weeks ago, and just last weekend I had another member of the same family. The patient was extremely apprehensive, but the mother of NG tube patient from the week before piped up and said, "Don't worry. He took care of _____ last week. You're in great hands!"

    During the entire septic work up from IV to catheter to ABG the mother of NG guy did nothing but rave about my amazing skills, even when I had to use two attempts for the ABG she still praised me. Now that is something special, and I felt pretty damn good about myself the rest of the day.

    I hope everyone else gets to feel like that at some point.
    bcolon, livelaughlove09, anotherone, and 13 others like this.
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    Sounds like you interviewed at my facility. We even had to wear these huge pins that said WOW on them. I don't know about wowing my patients but my computer is pretty darn impressed with me...spend all my time with it anyway
    libbyliberal, bcolon, HelloM1M1, and 24 others like this.
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    Quote from Mully
    On my way home from the interview I reflected on what that question could even mean. I thought about the fact that our hospitals are becoming more and more customer service oriented. They're no longer patients (that's an ugly word) - they're clients. It's no longer acute renal failure (that might hurt the kidney's feelings) - it's acute kidney injury. These are the types of changes many people within our health care systems spend their time making. These things are what we consider important.
    Bravo. This is exactly what's wrong with nursing today. Our hands are tied because patients/families complain about things that are either out of control or appropriate care that is in some way unpleasant. We become easy scapegoats when management and patient reps do not support us. There is way too much validation and not nearly enough education to families. "Yes, ambulating after surgery hurts. The nurse made you do it because it is important for your healing. You are fortunate to have had such a darn good nurse who cares about making you better."

    Hospitals need to be places to get better, not a vacation. I think the emphasis on "client satisfaction" is what is going to lead a lot of good nurses out the door. It's a shame.
    Sammie7, R!XTER, SoldierNurse22, and 21 others like this.
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    Reminds me of the young DKA in ICU that was discharged recently. He complained of being bothered "every 15 minutes." I, being rather tired of the attitude, told him that was his nurses JOB. They were there keeping him from DYING and keeping him SAFE.

    Of course this person will get a survey in the mail and they will complain about the annoying nurses.
    Last edit by tokmom on May 31, '13
    sistasoul, Sammie7, R!XTER, and 13 others like this.
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    I guess I wouldn't want to use those pts whose "wow" translated to all 1's on their survey.
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    That question makes me gag. How cheesy... So, the person that got the job probably played the game and said, "Oh, I searched the entire hospital for chocolate ice cream, because the patient threw the container of vanilla at my head when I brought it in the room for them. I just knew they'd prefer chocolate! Sure it was a diabetic patient, but the customer is always right!"

    "Wowing" a patient isn't nearly as important as providing excellent, appropriate nursing care. What did you end up replying??
    libbyliberal, tokmom, bcolon, and 20 others like this.
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    It all goes back to the annoying and ever present, ever lurking Press Ganey. I hate those things. It is my opinion that the majority of people will find something to complain about, and ignore the good things that are done for them. People expect their nurse to be kind, compassionate, skilled and attentive. They are not impressed when those things happen, because they take for granted that it will happen but heaven forbid they get the wrong order on their food tray. Then they want to complain to anyone who will listen, about how poor their care was.

    Have I wowed anyone? For years I worked nights, and many of my patients couldn't remember who I was. I counted this as a good thing. I rounded every hour and made sure they were breathing, dry and didn't need anything. The slept through the night and woke in the morning with only the vague memory of the "night nurse" checking on me. Many times I heard "Oh good, you're here tonight", and then the patient would sleep the night away. Is that wowing the patient?

    Now I work evening shift in the ED. Did I wow anyone? How about the homeless girl who hadn't eaten in three days and I gave her my sandwich, which was so much better than the dry turkey ones we have on the unit. Or the homeless man who I gave new socks to and new pants from the box of donated clothes that some of us brought in. Unfortunately, these people will never receive a hospital survey to fill out.

    Did I wow anyone recently? The answer is yes. I wow myself everyday I go to work and am able to perform my job to the best of my ability. I wow myself when I go home at night and know that somehow I made a difference, even if the patient didn't realize it. Wowing myself means more to wowing the patient because I know that I have provided excellent nursing care.
    libbyliberal, bcolon, R!XTER, and 24 others like this.
  11. 9
    Quote from tokmom
    Reminds me of the young DKA in ICU that was discharged recently. He complained of being bothered "every 15 minutes." I, being rather tired of the attitude, told him that was his nurses JOB. They were there keeping him from DYING and keeping him SAFE.

    Of course this person will get a survey in the mail and they will complain about the annoying nurses.
    Yes and those nurses will get a heads up from their manager that patient x complained. A suggestion will be to perhaps smile more while interrupting him.
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    We all wow ourself at work with what we have put up with in a shift and still keep on going back day after day in spite of it all! Just the usual swearing, screaming, hitting demented or alcoholic etc all in a days work!
    Sammie7, anotherone, canoehead, and 6 others like this.


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