On Being A Leader/Yes, I Actually Need Her To Pee

I have never been responsible for directly supervising others in any job I have had.

I’m still not directly supervising other staff, but I work closely with Medical Assistants that rely on my feedback and guidance to do their jobs. Which means I have to often do the one thing that I have the most difficult time doing: asking for what I need. Directing patient care is a key component of my job, and a part of being a clinical leader.

Always the gal who never wants to put anyone out, one of my toughest transitions into practice has been learning how to ask for what I need, when I need it. I also deeply believe that this is a product of gendered expectations of women. I was not socialized to ask for what I want.

In my everyday life, if my coffee order is wrong, if I get the wrong thing at a restaurant, if some stranger won’t stop talking to me on the bus…do I say anything? Nope. This may come as a surprise for those of you who know me as an outspoken political activist, not scared to yell down an anti-choice bigot, or argue a political point with a comrade. But in other areas, even asking for a new cup of drip coffee because the one I was given is cold is an anxiety-producing event for me.

Asking for what I need/want has been one of the ongoing battles of adulthood for me, but now it’s my job. I know she said she hasn’t had unprotected sex, but I want a pregnancy test anyway. I know she’s only here for vaginal discharge, but she might have pelvic inflammatory disease, in which case I need a temp.

I still have a difficult time asking for these seemingly small things. Sometimes I have a hard time asking because they are things I am perfectly capable of doing but I’m busy with other patient care. Anyone can put a thermometer in someone’s mouth. Anyone can dip a urine and record it.

I also try to strike a balance between when it really makes sense for me to ask someone else to do it and when I should do that something myself. My MA is rooming a patient with a probable UTI and I’m not doing anything? I go dip the urine. But I need a repeat blood pressure on a birth control patient and I’m still looking over her history? That’s when I ask.

I am still not perfect at asking, and I know this is an area where I can most definitely improve, but this seemingly small challenge has stared to bleed over into my every day life.

No, I know you think my mug is 20 ounces, but it’s actually 16.

Excuse me, I’m really trying to read here, nice chatting with you.

Can you please have her pee? I really do want to do a pregnancy test.

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