I’ll answer to almost anything these days.
Just because I did a foodservice rotation in my dietetic internship doesn’t mean I really understand what goes on in the underbelly of a large healthcare facility, even when I run down there ten times a day to straighten out issues. Sometimes it seems like the kitchen is trying to mess up trays. I swear, hospital foodservice is like the rubik’s cube of customer satisfaction. There are a few places that have gotten it right, but no one really knows how…
Basically my entire life, I’ve taken on challenges like they were options, only to find out later that the place/situation/job had a reputation for being notoriously difficult. For example, when I was volunteering in a little-slice-of-hell longterm care facility for HIV patients several years ago, people would ask, “Isn’t that…depressing?” or “How do you deal with that?”
I’d say, “Well…it’s certainly interesting.” And then I would rattle off some colorful stories and talk about how it was teaching me a lot about meeting people where they were at. In answer to the second question, I’d say, “How do I deal? I just kind of do.”
Most of the people I know who work in healthcare have said similar things, that they don’t really stop and say, “Wow, look how awful this is!” They just jump in and do their job, laugh at the day-to-day amusements, roll their eyes when they need to. The camaraderie you have with your co-workers definitely keeps you going. Of course, there are always going to be those moments when you need to vent behind a closed door or go cry in the bathroom and ask yourself why the hell you decided to do this—that’s part of any profession—but it rarely takes long before you find a positive to balance out the negative.
For me, right now I’m learning a lot about communication between departments and about ensuring that people feel like their concerns are being addressed. I’m also honing my technique of keeping it all together when I want to start speaking in my New Jersey expletive dialect. It can be tough when I put in so much effort to communicate clearly that a particular patient needs xyx, only to find them irate over a plate of exactly what they’re allergic to/something they won’t eat/the opposite of what they asked for, but so far so good. And also, you have to celebrate the little victories. I never thought I’d get so excited over someone getting a carton of milk with their lunch.
How do you approach challenges? What has your experience with hospital food been like?