I’m going to make a button to wear at work

It’ll say “I’m really only a dick at work”.

I’ve written before about my ‘game face‘ and how it’s not me, not really.  It’s a Business Me, and it’s how I get through life at work.

(Is that a cop-out? Do I do it because it makes me more efficient, a better doctor, smoother, faster, or do I do it because it builds a bit of a wall between me and my real self and lets me get through the day without getting emotionally attached to every patient and their family?)

I’m tolerable at work, but not really lovable, and I’m okay with that.  The persona I have is what I’ve made it, and it works for me.

I was told by new faculty (fresh from 10 years a Kaiser, in my last 6 months of a 4 year ED residency, so I was arrogantly dismissive of a guy I should have sat at the feet of) that ‘you’re going to be the center of the world’ and I didn’t believe him.  3 months later fending off every single problem imaginable (parking, who gets what meals, ‘will you look at this EMS patient that’s a direct admit but you’re available and we want to involve you’, paperwork by the pound, etc) I made some changes to the Things I Will Do Gladly list, and started the lifelong project of pushing back on those things that aren’t necessary for me to be involved in.

Approachability is the key in this transformation, and it’s a fine line letting the staff know what I expect them to handle and when it’s time to come get me.  This means No Barking, a lot of education and the occasional growl.

I’m kidding myself about the button.  It’d just be for me.  I’ll wear it on the inside of my coat.

Though I may get a booth and sell them at the ACEP Scientific Assembly; I think there’d be a market amongst my ED colleagues…


  1. I think your alter ego is probably pretty common. Though I’m sure a few of my attendings are really as horrible of human beings as I think they are, I have a feeling that a few of them are just putting on a good show.

  2. Glen in Texas says:

    Your co-workers benefit if you are consistent in your conduct at work – Even if this is artificial to a degree.

    A “moody” coworker is no asset, particularly in a rather intense environment.

    Glen in Odessa
    Unreconstructed Neurotic

  3. I’m the opposite. I trained myself to be unnaturally nice at work. I smile all day at the hospital and then go home and bitch about it. I’m not normally that calm, mellow guy –but it’s a habit from training I can’t unlearn.

    Too bad really because sometimes a little mean gets things moving in the hospital.

  4. nurse 1961 says:

    Growl and Bark all you want. I can growl and bark too.

    I am trying to teach the newbies that they need to have face-to-face conversations with their physicians. Come with facts and have a plan for what you want.

    We are expected to have that “smile” on our face for every patient and family. We come up with hundreds of excuses as to why the physician doesn’t run to the patients room for every little thing.

    So get your game face on, and remember we are wearing our game faces too. You may be the quarterback, but we are your offensive line, running backs, and receivers. A good quarterback can make the team, or break the team.

  5. You know what, Stan, if you want me to wear 37 pieces of flair, like your pretty boy over there, Brian, why don’t you just make the minimum 37 pieces of flair?

  6. Matt made a funny! I like it.

  7. If the minimums weren’t good enough, they wouldn’t be minimums, would they?

  8. Matt, do you have the TPS reports?

  9. Vanessa Bailey says:

    Hey Grumpy,

    Married life is swell but it means my blog time has taken a hit. Just wanted to say that I loved EVERY shift I worked with you. It was truly an honor (and also a lot of fun) to work with someone who didn’t take any BS and didn’t dish it out either. That’s a rare quality is a person and I’d take that any day and twice on Sunday over those smiling sycophant SOBs.

    (Not directed at you Doc D, I just love alliteration).