Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Majoring in Minors

It’s the act of focusing on things that don’t matter and forgetting or overlooking the things that do.

I suppose in some ways the act of majoring in minors is probably one of my biggest frustrations. When people get caught up in the politics, the red tape, the outliers, they forget about the point.

Minor things are important, they have a role, but they aren’t the Major thing.

I once knew a nurse who worked on the weekends, but was always coming to work for meetings during the week. She was very involved in nursing protocols, patient management, and overseeing transfer orders. When she was on she would frequently call to let me know of all the minor details involved with her patient’s orders and administrative concerns, but she didn’t call concerning her actual patient’s care or health status.

I found it frustrating that this nurse showed such extensive attention to minor details and very little to the major, or the patient.

One Saturday morning I received a call from this nurse. She called about a patient: some minor detail needed to be changed in the orders, could I please change some of their medications, and when was this patient being discharged.

“Have you seen this patient yet?” I asked

“No,” she said, “they don’t speak English and I haven’t called the interpreter yet.”

I had seen her patient at 6:30; it was now 8:00. She’d been here over an hour and still hadn’t seen her patient.

“Oh!” I said. “Well, your patient does speak English. They need some morning pain medication. I’ve already discussed their discharge plans with them. And I won’t be changing their medication because they’re insurance won’t allow it.”

“Oh.” She said.

The patient was the major.

Details are important. Attention to detail is extremely important. But details are facts about the patient, they aren’t the patient.

The patient needed pain medication, needed to know who their nurse was for the day, needed to be seen, needed to be cared for.

Sometimes life gets in the way and we forget to live it, embrace it. We get focused on work and money and insurance and bills and groceries and … and all those minor details.

Yes, all the details are important. But you have to learn to see through the details to the majors, to what matters.