The healthcare field serves as a wonderful landscape of careers for so many people. With so many different jobs, titles, facilities, and needs to be filled, there's more than enough opportunity to pass around. Personally, I was lured by the potential of a steady career in a booming industry, but it wasn't until I was elbows deep in a pit of phlegm and germs (cute, I know, I'm sorry) that I considered how my career might affect my family at home.
Don't get me wrong: There were parts of working in healthcare that I absolutely loved, and now that I'm on hiatus from the field, I've had time to truly appreciate the good work that healthcare workers do. It's not a field of work that is well-suited for the faint of heart.
It's emotionally trying, physically daunting, and mentally taxing. People don't get into the industry because it's cool. Disimpactions are not cool and seeing people suffer on a daily basis is heartbreaking. Most people go into the medical field because they care, because they genuinely want to help heal those who need it, and because they've got a compassionate heart.
Some of the people I worked with are still to this day some of my best friends. There's a distinct bond between coworkers in healthcare, and an understanding of the struggle that no one else quite gets. I can attest to the fact that this bond is especially true for moms, as bringing work home with us is often inevitable.
We just get it. And by "it" I mean all of this:
How Easily Germs Are Spread
If you've ever worked in any aspect of healthcare, there's a good chance that you've sat through a rigorous orientation that involved watching more than a few videos on the danger of spreading germs. That one where the contaminated area is highlighted and grows and spreads as each person shakes hands and opens doors — NOPE!
This is incredibly frightening for a new mom, as it takes babies time to develop a strong immune system. Every hand that reaches to pinch your nugget's sweet little cheeks reminds you of that contaminated, toxic, poisonous orb encasing the hands in that video.
Healthcare moms understand how easily germs are spread. Unfortunately for us, babies and toddlers don't understand the importance of covering their mouth when they cough, or that it's pretty disgusting to put everything in their mouth.
Working The Weirdest Hours Ever
Healthcare offers a variety of shifts, which is great...most of the time. Sometimes you get stuck working the third shift (usually 7 p.m.-7 a.m.) and your whole week is thrown off as you recover from hospital lag. Sometimes shifts involve a lot of nights and weekends, so while your family is at home watching cartoons in their jammies on Saturday mornings, you're stuck at work dodging sputum all day (yes, that word is disgusting but if you're in the field it really doesn't phase you.)
You Forget How To Dress Like An Adult
If you're part of the clinical staff, you live your life in what is best described as professional pajamas. It's awesome until you've got to dress like an adult and you have no idea how to piece a proper outfit together, or what size jeans you even where anymore because you're so accustomed to an expandable waste band.
The struggle is so, so real.
Wanting To Pursue A Different Career During Cold And Flu Season
Working in the business of healing and saving lives is most often indescribably rewarding. But then cold and flu season come around and you question every life choice you made that led you to this awful, sickly, germy profession. Getting hacked on all day by complete strangers is pretty much par for the course that time of year, and the notion of leaving work on time is laughable when there's a waiting room bursting at its seams with patients.
It's even more difficult as a mom because when we finally clock out after spending hours upon hours taking care of patients, we're going home to take care of kids. The nose-wiping never ends.
The Importance Of Washing Your Hands
Sure, we all ~know~ that washing one's hands is an important part of not contributing to the already uncontrollable spread of germs and disease, but moms who work in healthcare really knoooooowww this. Which is frustrating since kids typically don't understand the importance and/or skill of washing their hands.
Think about all the things your hands touch throughout the day. Now think about your hands being covered in muck, and then reimagine touching all of those objects again. Gross, right? Well, that's pretty much what it's like with kids that are unable to wash their hands as much as needed to prevent spreading germs (hence, the constant runny noses). Moms who work in healthcare see this scenario all too clearly.
The Actual Proper Use Of The Emergency Room
I can't tell you how many people use the emergency room in place of a walk-in clinic. Colds are typically not emergencies, nor are broken fingers, runny noses, nosebleeds, tooth aches, or back pain that has persisted for six months.
If your bone is protruding from your skin, you're bleeding profusely, or you're in so much pain (head, stomach, etc.) that you're unable to even open your eyes, then your reason for visiting the emergency room is acceptable. Otherwise, a walk-in or urgent care clinic will suffice.
Kids raised by women working in healthcare have the unfortunate task of sometimes toughing it out until clinic hours. We understand that the emergency room needs to be available for real emergencies, such as heart attacks, car accidents, and strokes. Our kids may be uncomfortable, but they'll usually (not every single time because each and every case is different, and you should obviously always consult a doctor if you're concerned) be OK with the treatment of a walk-in clinic.
The whole anti-vaccination movement often summons serious eye rolls from nurses and physicians. Granted, I haven't done the legwork here, but I'm guessing you could fit the number of healthcare workers with unvaccinated kids on the tip of a life-saving, vaccine-loaded needle.
Patience During Doctor Appointments
I promise you that the medical staff is not sitting around playing Candy Crush on their iPhones while you sit in the waiting room counting every second that you're held captive there. Sometimes people are late for appointments, which throws the whole day off. Sometimes patients require more time and attention if their case is more serious. Sorry, but what you've got going on honestly might not be as serious as what someone else has going on. If that were your child needing the extra care you wouldn't want the physician hurrying off to his next exam, would you?
Healthcare moms get it. Sh*t happens. We'll wait our turn patiently as long as there are enough People magazines and wi-fi involved.
Sometimes Adults Are Babies Too
Adults, in case you didn't know, are capable of pitching some fits so monumental that they will make your manic toddler look like an angelic kitten. At least kids have the excuse that they aren't fully aware of how to properly control their emotional outbursts. Their tantrums are a bit more understandable, but when an adult stomps his or her feet, it's a little less tolerable. What does this have to do with being a mom working in healthcare? Hahaha... If you have to ask, you obviously haven't worked where we've worked.
A True Appreciation For Being In Good Health
Seeing people suffer all the time is hard. Working in the midst of life and death every day changes a person. If you've ever worked in healthcare, you likely have a deeper appreciation for your good health. You know that whatever might be bothering you at that particular time could almost certainly be worse, and you understand that things often taken for granted are so precious and important. It seems so hypocritical to complain about random, minimal ailments when you witness the pain some people endure on a daily basis. You're truly grateful for what you have.
Nothing Grosses You Out
Healthcare moms laugh in the face of baby poop. Neither snot, nor vomit can deter our rock-solid gag reflexes. We've seen too much to let something like a little blood make us queasy, and we're not afraid to hold out our hands when our kids throw up in public places.
Proper Anatomical Terms
Moms working in healthcare understand the need for clarification when it comes to anatomy. When our kids say their arm hurts we wonder which part? Is it their humerus, forearm, or wrist? When they complain of belly pain we wonder where? Is it in the lower-left quadrant or the lower-right? There's a big difference.
There are 206 bones in the body, so when our kids say that their foot hurts, we need to know which part. Because, yes, it actually does make a huge difference.
Healthcare moms are a little weird, sure, but they could probably save your life, and that's a pretty awesome quality to have. Also, we sincerely want you to stop smoking and drink more water. Just needed to throw that in there.