Thrown Into The Fire

The first serious challenge I faced after arriving in the Medical Staff Office was when my coworker went out on Medical Leave.  It was anticipated that she would be gone for between 8-12 weeks.

This happened less than 6 months after I joined the team.

Remember – I had no real database training, no foundation knowledge regarding what I was doing and why, I had barely learned my own job duties and now I would be responsible for someone else’s as well.

I was panicking inside while those around me assured me that everything would be fine.

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My specific instructions were from coworker – “I’ve already set up all of the reports for the next 3 months, all you need to do is fill in the blanks.”

There was no – “This is where the information comes from.”  I was missing the instruction of “That is why this is important to be included on the reports.”  And there was never a conversation that included “You may run into a snag with this aspect, if so, this is how you fix it.”  Nothing.  Nada.

Up until that point, it was the most stressful I had ever been at work.  Even more stressful than a previous boss volun-telling me to attend a cancer retreat, be the craft coordinator for 80+ people, with no prior experience at doing any of that – the weekend before my own wedding.

It took the full three months that my coworker was gone for me to figure out a system to deal with all of the issues I kept running into.

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At one point, I remember having a conversation with the Director who asked how I liked my job.  Ever the optimist and attempting to be positive, I commented that I really liked the “process list” aspect of MSOW – as it helped me to keep track of what was still pending and what I needed to do.  I also included a comment, “Checking things off the list helps me feel like I’ve accomplished something in my day.”

I received the response from her, “There is much more to credentialing than just checking off items on a list.”

We both missed a great opportunity that day.  She didn’t understand my comment had a much deeper meaning – that I was feeling out-of-control in my job.  And, at the time, I didn’t understand that her comment meant that I hadn’t been trained properly because at that point, I only knew how to check items off the list.

Every time I turned around I was being told that I was doing a great job.  The Director, the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), the Physician Liaison, the Credentials Chair – everyone insisted that I was doing wonderful.

So, why did I feel like a fake?  I felt like I was an impostor, like I didn’t belong in the Medical Staff Office.  I kept asking myself, the people I knew outside of the job, and a counselor (who I eventually started seeing) what was wrong with me.  Why couldn’t I get a handle on what I was doing and why was everything so hard?

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I had the counselor sum it up best after I had been in the job for about a year – I hadn’t actually had just one job; I had been asked and required to learn 4 jobs, all requiring extensive knowledge that I did not have, with next to no training.

But at the 6 month mark – I knew none of what the counselor finally pin-pointed.  I just knew that I was trying to juggle work (with no training), home (with a husband and kids who didn’t understand with their own problems and demands) and self (my self-esteem began to plummet during this time – the start of a three year depression that I’m finally, just now, clawing my way out of).

It took another 3 years before I realized that the problem was not me, that I was not a fraud and that I did have something to bring to the Medical Staff world.

Have you felt like a fraud at work?  What did you do to overcome the feeling?

My First Day

“Welcome to Medical Staff!  We hate to do this to you, but we all have to be at a meeting, so you’ll be the only one in the office for about 15-20 minutes.  That won’t be a problem will it?  Just take a message if the phone rings or someone comes in.”

This is what my Director greeted me with the very first day I walked into the Medical Staff Office on a Monday morning.

No tour around the office.  Nothing.

The silence of the office was intimidating.

Not one to sit idle, I logged into my computer and answered as many emails as I could from my previous position.  That took me all of 5 minutes.

Looking around the main office space, it was dark, dusty and mauve.  VERY mauve.  There were office cubicles with mauve walls.  Coordinating pictures with mauve mattings.  The office accessories – letter trays, staplers, tape dispensers – were all a dark plum/mauvish color.

I looked in the office kitchenette – there was a sink, refrigerator, microwave and coffee maker.  All of which looked like it had been years since they had been cleaned.  The cabinets were over-full with old supplies, a mish-mash collection that I recognized from the cafeteria, catered events, and home supplies.

There were plants in each area of the office – 3 large rooms, the kitchenette, and a private bathroom.  The plants all appeared to be neglected and dying.  The only place there weren’t any plants was in the separate, but attached, file room.  Floor to ceiling revolving file cabinets, horizontal file cabinets and a copy machine filled this area.  Each file drawer filled to overflowing.  Cramped, crowded and stifling hot when the copy machine was in use (I later found that out).

The mauve continued into the middle office area and into the director’s office.  There was a collection of furniture and decorations that seemed to be shoved in places to appear to be useful, but gave the areas a feeling of being cluttered.

In the entire area, there was only one window.  Thankfully, it was right next to my work space.  It provided a little light, but no view.  It was made with glass blocks to ensure privacy.  So I could see outside, but it was always distorted.  That’s how I later came to view my job – distorted.

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I don’t remember much from my first week in the Medical Staff Office – but I remember that first 15 minutes.  They aren’t lying about first impressions.  If I had been honest with myself, I would have known that my first impression of the office would have shown me the chaos I had agreed to enter.

Welcome To Medical Staff – Now What?

If you’re reading this post and site, you are probably a lot like I was a few years ago, and still am today.  Lost, bewildered, confused – and trying to figure out how to do a job that has next to no official training attached to it.

You’ll learn as you go.

On the job training.

Trial by fire.

These are just a few of the phrases I heard in my first month working in the Medical Staff Office.  They were not lying.

I began this site to help those, like me, who are desperately attempting to do a job that few can explain coherently.

My fondest hope for those who find this site is that you had a wonderful trainer and mentor when you began your position.  If you are one of those, please stick around and feel free to thank your mentor that they knew what they were doing and were able to transfer that knowledge to you.  Laughing at my clueless-ness is an extra bonus.  For those of you who were thrown into the position, or accepted it without a clue what you were getting into, this site is for you.

This site is for me to relay my own trials and tribulations.  It is for you to learn from.  It is for me to learn from you.  I want you to question my posts, ask if it is truly a best practice or something that “has always been done”.  Help us all to become excellent at our jobs.

Join me in attempting to make sense of the craziness we call Medical Staff Credentialing.

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