I get frustrated very easily at work. I get frustrated by my lack of knowledge and indecision, and have to constantly talk myself up. But every once in awhile, I get some feedback that makes me think that maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself…

Yesterday I had 2 such experiences. I had a 46 year old man with AIDS who was so demented, he didn’t know what was going on. His doctor, an infectious disease specialist, came down to talk to me in the ED to explain his disease and let me know that it was time for him to die and that he had discussed this with the man’s family. TIme to withdraw all of his HIV meds and just go quickly. When the ID (infectious disease) doctor tracked me down in the ED, he made a quick comment, “I’m glad that it’s you takign care of Mr. Smith.”

Then I had a flight for a car accident. There were a lot of us on board the helicopter, including the regular flight nurse & medic and a flight nurse in training as well as me, the pilot and the patient. When I fly along, it’s part of my job to make a decision about whether or not to alert the trauma team and also to deliver the medical command report over the radio to the staff doc. SO we’re in the air, and I carefully plan my report which I’ve given dozen’s of times before, arranged so that the most important information is first (alert vs. non-alert, vital signs and injuries). It was quick and sweet, no questions asked. Afterwards, the flight nurse and medic told me that my reports are consistantly much better than all of my peers and that I should be giving lessons to them. I tried to play it off by saying that I just followed the format I was given and they continued to praise me. It felt really good to hear such a simple thing, and to hear me compared to others in such a positive way. All too often in the ED, we are criticized and critiqued by internal medicine docs who judge us with hindsight and with the benefit of having hours to pore over old patient records.

It’s nice to hear just a few subtle compliments once in awhile.