03 July 2007

Things which will blow your Wa

Wa is very important to me. From my limited understanding, "wa" is a concept in Japanese culture referring to an internal sense of harmony and well-being. I shelter, protect and cultivate my wa religiously. It is what gets me through difficult shifts without going mad.

So yesterday, I arrived home from a birthday party with the kids, still in my swimsuit and wet from the pool. Tired and utterly relaxed, I had a beer out from the fridge and on the counter with the bottle opener in my hand.

The Phone Rings.

"Hi, Doctor. It's Jennifer in the ER. Are you coming in to work this evening? We were expecting you at 6:30."
"I don't think I am working today."
"We have you as the 6:30 doc on the schedule. Did you make a trade?"
"Um, no. Let me check my schedule and get back to you."

My Outlook calendar has me quite clearly as OFF today, but the master ER schedule does show me as working. Crap! How did that happen?

I ultimately got to work only an hour late (only!) and that was only by virtue of a very quick change of clothes and some serious extralegal driving. Fortunately, my partner whose shift had been scheduled to end at 6:30 was gracious in accepting my humble apologies.

But my wa was completely and utterly blown.

Predictably, the shift wound up being like crap. Nothing worked. I never got my flow, the rhythm, the groove. Nobody had an obvious diagnosis. Hospitalists were all rightly skeptical at half-baked admissions. Pissed-off patients wound up walking out dissatisfied. I kept losing track of patients (Room four? I thought they were discharged an hour ago!) and orders somehow kept appearing on the charts for the wrong patients (thank god for alert nurses who repeatedly saved my ass). And all attributable to the fact that I arrived late, flustered, and not in the right frame of mind for the shift. Man, I'm no good at all without my wa.

Sigh. And I am working again at 6:30 tonight.


  1. I so don't miss shift work. As an attorney, I miss the daily team work that was a part of other jobs I have had; but, I don't miss other people having to pay for my scheduling mix ups.

  2. Your previous post about the importance of being mentally prepared and getting your game face on before a shift was so true.

    That's also why it's so hard to find someone to cover a shift at the last minute. Nobody likes to be called in unexpectedly.

  3. I feel for you. I had one of those days. A hospital wide computer crash occurred including our electronic medical records, digital radiology and discharge instruction program. The laziest nurses were on, including the one whose English I cannot understand. The craziest patients all decided to come.

  4. ouch. I'm with you. That's a setup for a bad shift.

  5. or maybe you're not... that master schedule to my palm transition is often rocky too - I've learned to triple compare...


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.