I love the beginning of my day and the end of my day – safety huddle in the morning and check-in before I leave.
These are comforting meetings.
First thing in the morning, with a nurse, the ward clerk, the social worker and the manager, I hear how every patient has managed the last fourteen or fifteen hours and figure out what work needs to be done first.
If I come in anxious, worried about one or another patient, news from the safety huddle calms me down. I never have to carry anything all by myself and that is the best thing about a team. The social worker helps me stay in touch with families and reminds me – again – of the forms I need to fill out. The nurse tells me about the medication I need to change and which patients I need to see first. The ward clerk knows what’s happening where and the manager reminds which administrator is checking what and why.
I leave with my notebook full of examinations to complete, meetings to attend, orders to write and consultations to arrange. The next nine or ten hours are laid out.
Just before I leave, I pack my computer to take home and walk downstairs. The unit where I am currently working is far from my office, but I never tempt fate by bringing my things with me when I’m going for my end of day check-in.
I don’t think every doctor does a check-in, but I have found that it’s reassuring for the evening staff. They haven’t been there through the day and, if they have questions about what I’ve done, or an order I’ve written, I want to answer them.
A doctor writes down what medications to give or procedures to follow, but the hands that give the medications and complete the procedures are those of a nurse. My aunts were nurses, my sister was a nurse and they taught me what nurses need from a doctor. They were important people in my life and I want to honour them by doing what they told me helps nurses care for patients.
In the check-in at the end of the day, I hear firsthand about the evening before and find out what must be done before I leave.
After I do those few tasks, I sit one last time with the staff to be certain everything is ready for the evening. I will also check-in on patients. The early evening is an informal time of day on a psychiatric inpatient unit and it can be a good time to sit with someone in an unguarded moment and talk about or suggest evening plans.
Unfortunately, in this new adult unit, there is no one to tell me about the new video game. There are no cooking groups, because of physical distancing. However, one day this week, when I looked down a corridor, I noticed everyone in chairs at the doors of their rooms, social distancing, looking down the hall to where a television was set up so that they could watch a movie, “As Good As It Gets”.