So I started a new job which really is an old job; only the new job is taking place now in real time while the old job took place some twenty-nine years ago. Clear as mud? Imagine how I feel. This whole déjà vu thing is kind of freaking me out.
It’s surreal, really. My new job as a medical secretary is exactly the same job I had twenty-nine years ago. It is also with the same physician. I feel as though I have come full circle, a feeling that is almost akin to taking a trip without ever having left the farm. I have fallen back into my secretarial groove easily, a groove I was concerned I would have forgotten. It has both surprised and pleased me. One patient reminded me that it would be ‘just like riding a bike’. And she was right.
What has not surprised me, though, is that there are still the same kinds of patients to deal with now as there were then. I refer to these kinds of patients as the good, the bad, and the ugly. This especially rings true when they have to deal with change. Whether that change is in scheduling, location, billing, or staff, change of any kind throws them into chaos. Some accept that change with ease while others won’t go down without a fight. My coming on the scene now after the secretary they have been used to, some for almost twenty-four years, is really throwing them for a loop. For some, my taking their beloved secretary’s place is nothing short of a shitastrophy. I wish I was kidding.
Good patients accept change. They are kind and welcoming. They are the people I want to do things for and accommodate their requests as soon as possible. This, by the way, means I will schedule their appointments to see the doctor at that moment. I won’t let their call go to voicemail when their name is displayed on caller ID nor will I put them on hell hold when I do answer their call. These people ‘get’ it. They understand how the system works: if they are nice to me, I will be nice to them.
It’s common sense, people; it’s not mother clucking rocket science. This is the kind of stuff that is learned in kindergarten. It sticks with some people; others, well, not so much. But, we’ll get to them later. First up are some examples of nice patients.
Good Patient, Example #1
GP#1: Is Pita retiring? (Pita is the code name for the gal I am replacing. It is an acronym for ‘pain in the ass’. Pita chose this name and, if you knew Pita like I do, you’d understand why she loves that acronym. It’s perfect.)
Me: Yes, she is. After twenty-four years, she is taking some much deserved time for herself.
GP#1: What is your name? Where are you from?
I politely answered this patient’s questions and we enjoyed some pleasant chit chat for a few minutes.
GP#1: Please tell Pita that I wish her all the best. While we may be losing a good one, I can tell we are also gaining a good one.
This patient moved directly to the top of my nice list. I will be asking Santa to put a little something extra in her Christmas stocking. She was kind, genuinely interested, and took the time to get to know me. Her attitude made all the difference in what was a stressful day of dealing with the idiots assholes butt plugs not so nice patients.
Good Patient, Example #2
GP#2: Will you be taking Pita’s place after she retires? (Patient discretely inquired after I took him into the examining room.)
Me: Yes, I will.
GP#2: Well, I wish you all the success that Pita has enjoyed here.
Isn’t he just lovely? After his appointment with the doctor, he said equally lovely things to Pita. This gentleman is the true definition of class and showed tremendous respect for both Pita and me. He was fast tracked to the top of my nice list. That’s right. All medical secretaries have mental lists which are divided into the good, the bad, and the ugly. Many scheduling decisions are based on these lists. Remember this the next time you want to schedule an appointment to see your doctor. I kid you not. It will really make all the difference unless the secretary is a
looney-tune bitch numbskull loser, well, then you’re on your own. I can only do so much.
Bad patients do not like change. They are what I like to call ‘set in their ways’. Bad patients usually need time to accept change and, while they may say some unfiltered comments in the beginning, they are usually won over with patience and kindness. Once they come to terms with me as the new/old kid on the block who is now booking their appointments, they will eventually forget that I was ever new. I am patient with these patients (groan, I know, but I couldn’t help myself) and I do my best to accommodate their needs, not immediately mind you, but within reason. These people will come to like me for I am a gawd damn likeable person, gawd dammit.
Bad Patient, Example #1
The following conversation falls more under “WTF?” rather than under the bad but it is too funny not to share.
BP#1: What is your name?
BP#1: I think I’ll call you Diane.
Me: Diane? Why Diane? (You crazy dodo head.)
BP#1: Any person I have ever met in my life called Linda should have been called Diane.
Well, I certainly have been called worse. ‘That one’ by my grandmother. ‘Bitch’ by some jealous bitch. ‘Snot’ by the same grandmother (yes, she was bitter). ‘Lynn’ by my parents all.the.time. even though my birth certificate clearly states my birth name is Linda. Go figure.
What do you think? Should I legally change my name to Diane? And, what does a Diane look like anyway?
Bad Patient, Example #2
BP#2: Ewwwwww. New face. No offence. (BP#2 said this like she had just come upon some disgustingly rotten road kill.)
BP#2 (begins to blather): I mean I just wasn’t expecting to see someone new. Not that you’re bad looking or anything like that, it’s just, well, you’re new. You aren’t Pita. You’re different. No one told me there was going to be someone new working here. I’m sorry, should I just stop talking right now?
BP#2: Would flowers help?
While I was only kidding, and I did tell her I was, she came back with two lovely garden plants, one for Pita and one for me, and apologized again. There is hope for the world and my relief at knowing I did not look like disgustingly rotten road kill was immense. She was expedited to the nice list.
Ugly patients hate and refuse to accept change. They are what I like to call ‘mother clucking nasty’ people. They are psycho, rude and definitely unhinged. Thankfully, ugly patients are a small minority but are enough to wreak havoc in an otherwise perfect day. What ugly patients do not realize is that, with their rude and obnoxious behaviour, they screw themselves right out of an immediate appointment. When they talk down to me, yell at me, and/or treat me like dirt, they will add days onto the next available appointment. Medical secretaries DO NOT forget these people; sadly, these people are too stupid incapable of understanding why the heck they do not get in to see the doctor right away.
Ugly Patient #1
UP#1: Who is this and why is she here? (UP#1 asked of Pita with as much disdain as possible even though I was sitting at the reception desk and Pita was standing away from the desk.)
Pita: This is Linda and she is taking my place after I retire.
UP#1: Retire? You can’t retire. You’ll die.
Pita: Now, UP#1, don’t be saying things like that. It’s not true.
UP#1: Yes, it is. If you retire, you’re going to die.
Pita: UP#1, please don’t say things like that.
UP#1: I am telling you right here, right now, if you retire, you are F****D. (Yes, he did indeed drop the F bomb.)
Pita and Me:
UP#1: Tell the doctor you are not retiring. You’ll be out of a job (finally, he looked at me, down at me, but looked at me just the same) but so what. She CANNOT retire because she will die.
I am not sure what he expected to happen to me if Pita decided not to retire, maybe drop off the face of the mother clucking earth, but, clearly he did not care. From there he went directly to hating on his children and saying that he wished they were dead. I kid you not. Just ask Pita.
Ugly Patient #2
UP#2 (who has been crushing on Pita forever): Where is Pita?
Me: Pita is away today. (Actually she was hiding in the storage room.)
UP#2: You’re able to be here on your own right now? (Incredulous, I know.)
Me: Yes, I am. (Go away. NOW.)
UP#2: Are you sure you know what you’re doing?
Me: Yes, I do. (You are a mother clucking frig arse.)
UP#2: Pita runs a tight ship.
Me: As do I. (I’m going to punch you in the throat.)
UP#2: You have big shoes to fill. Are you sure you’re able to be here on your own right now?
Me: This isn’t my first rodeo. (Go to hell and die.)
UP#2: I’m not sure about this. I’m going to have to talk to Pita.
Me: Please, be my guest. (You are never, ever getting an appointment here again.)
Here are some other comments that you can decide which category they should go in:
- You don’t look too bad. (Why thank you, I think.)
- At least you look professional. (As opposed to what? A prostitute?)
- Pita would have remembered that. (I should be a mind reader on top of everything else?)
- Who the hell is Lin-DAH? (Lin-DAH? Lin-DAH? Let me Lin-DAH you right up the side of your head.)
- Why are you here? (I don’t know. I just wandered in off the street.)
- You got your hair cut. Surely the job isn’t getting to you already. (For the love of God and all things holy; it’s just a hair cut, not a Britney Spears meltdown.)
- Oh, Pita, you have a helper. (Jaysus, I’m right in front of you.)
- Hey, Pita, why don’t you have your minion do that? (Minion? You are so screwed, you mother clucking frig arse.)
And one last telephone conversation to share with you:
Me: Good morning, Dr. Who’s office. This is Linda.
Patient: Hello, Pita?
Me: No, this is Linda. How may I help you?
Patient: Is Pita there?
Me: Pita is with a patient right now. How many I help you?
Patient: I want to talk to Pita.
Me: I’ll be happy to take a message for you.
The good thing about all of this is that I am not taking any of it personally. I know this too shall pass. Everyone just needs time to get used to the new shit changes and to me. So, for the time being, I’ll be less strict with my bitchy medical secretary ‘types of patients’ lists but I won’t forget. The good have nothing to worry about, the bad can turn things around, but the ugly, well, they’d better get their
shit act together or they could be dealing with this:
Kicking ass in the old/new job: 1
Mother clucking frig arses:0