May 12, 2008

This is not the counselor you're looking for

Yesterday I was having lunch with two of my graduate school classmates and the conversation turned, inevitably, to the crazy things our patients say and do. No to worry, HIPPA activists, names were changed to protect the insane innocent. One common theme was that patients can't seem to remember which counselor they met with during their appointment. This makes the receptionists' task of fielding follow-up calls to the appropriate person difficult. Confusion arises, work is duplicated, and counselors get frustrated. It feels like a slap in the face - the counselor thinks, I spent and hour answering her questions, and she doesn't even know my name?

One might expect this in my friend Laura's office, as she is one of two blonde counselors of average height with a name beginning with the letter 'L.' More surprising is that the same situation arises for petite (also blonde) Kara, who works with a tall brunette. In our graduate program Laura and Kara were often confused for each other and for Emily, our other blonde classmate. I was fortunate enough to be a unique snowflake of a girl - almost six foot tall, Indian, loud and clumsy. Once I started work, however, I was shocked to find many patients couldn't recall whether they saw me or my colleague FV, a short Mediterranean woman with an accent. The mind boggles.

In actuality, this is a desired outcome of our training. During our clinical rotations, one of the evaluation criteria was 'professional dress and appearance.' We were encouraged to look nice, but not to stand out in any way. It may be depressing to be so easily forgotten, but at the end of the day the patient should be paying attention to the message, rather than the messenger.

I'm sure it's this way in any profession (the Oldest Profession being a notable exception). I'm just being my usual contrary self - wanting to stand out when I should blend in and vice versa. You can go about your business. Move along ... move along.


Anonymous said...

Do you know your patients' names after one session?

Monkey Sri said...

Yes, actually. Maybe not forever, but usually for as long as they're pregnant. Thanks for the comment!

Maggie Cats said...

This is totally normal. Even I, who is of average intelligence, often cannot remember the name's of doctors, etc., that I see. *shrugs* It's just the way it is. I don't think it necessarily means that the people are crazy or dumb. Just...normal. I guess it means that you are so good at explaining stuff, that they remember the actual content of what you say. :o)

Monkey Sri said...

Yes, that's basically my point. Thanks for the comment, Maggie :D