Some of you may get the impression from reading this blog that every day in clinic I come home with a beaming smile, happily learning new skills, and loving every moment of providing reproductive health care. Well, I am going to let the cat out of the bag:
Sometimes I come home exhausted. Sometimes I come home frustrated. Sometimes I come home feeling like an idiot. Sometimes I come home and wonder, “That was really her fundus, right? Even though she’s a multip, it’s ok that I only sounded her to 6.5 cm before putting in the IUD? I double checked. I triple checked. I had to be at the top of her uterus. Oh I hope I didn’t fuck it up.”
Some days I feel happy and joyous and like I’m great at my job, but those small joys are usually interspersed with small frustrations and moments of sheer embarrassment that I experience all day long.
I am frustrated that no matter how fast I seem to be learning to use the electronic health record system, it’s never fast enough to keep up with seeing 28 patients a day
I am frustrated that I have to see 28 patients a day.
I am frustrated that keeping patients waiting just seems to be part of the job, even though I am getting better at keeping up with my schedule
I am frustrated that my clinic is being picketed every day by anti-choice asshats for the next 40 days.
I am frustrated that my clinic has a very strict no-contact policy so I can’t tell those anti-choicers exactly where to put their “I regret my abortion” picket signs.
I am frustrated that most of my patients have no other health care provider but me.
I am frustrated that I can’t always answer my patient’s questions, even though they look to me for all the answers.
I am frustrated that I may have a patient that waits an hour to see me, and I can only spend five minutes with them.
I am frustrated that my uninsured patients have to decide on their birth control method based on cost rather than what they’d really like to use.
I am frustrated that sometimes I get frustrated with my patients.
I am frustrated that the level of health literacy in our society is so low, leading my patients to not understand their bodies, or how STIs are spread, or how to use condoms.
I am frustrated when my patients decline a birth control method although they do not want to get pregnant.
I am frustrated that patients keep asking me if I’m learning how to be a doctor/how old I am/if I have been doing this long.
I am frustrated that I am a sympathy crier.
I am frustrated that I often don’t know how to address my patients feelings and awkwardly hand them a tissue box.
I am frustrated that I commute so far from home
I am frustrated that I am not perfect at my job yet, and that I still make seemingly obvious mistakes, and that I can’t follow my own advice to be gentle with myself.
There is so much learning that goes on every day I am in clinic, and I have to balance this seemingly insane juggling act of being a cool and confident midwife with also embracing time to learn, ask questions, and try to be present with each and every patient. It’s an ongoing struggle, and I anticipate that while some of these frustrations may get better with time, some will always be there, and I’ll learn how to cope with them bit by bit.