Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bonding Between Sides

Mark - thank you for the link.
The giggles are sorely needed.

During periods of high stress within the organization (like when our enterprise systems refuse to work and fixing the issue requires time and infinite patience), it's easy for IT to see the doctors as "the enemy" and vice versa.

I am often impressed and surprised that the docs in the organization I work have the level of emotional intelligence that they do. Thus far, during this very stressful 6 month period, I have only been the recipient of 2 major, inappropriate temper tantrums. To the credit of the organization, these outbursts are dealt with strictly and at a very high level.

I don't blame the doctors for being incredibly frustrated. To their credit, they understand that we (IT) are not the culprits and that we have little control over the current situation. My job this week has been reduced to 3rd line application support. This consists of remotely going into the computer, capturing screenshots and whatever workflow the doctors have time to give us, trying to work around the issue to get them functional again, entering the information into the vendor's helpdesk system, and, during a pause in the action, wandering to where we have the vendor's head of development and lead developer chained to the chairs (we have been feeding and watering them, so they seem happy right now) and sharing further information / trends.

During one such troubleshooting session, Dr. F (one of our Internal medicine attendings) said You know Wendy - our jobs are very similar.

What do you mean?

Well - you diagnose the problem, but you are often powerless to fix the problem.

If you are not certain about a problem, you can go to the next level - in my case, the specialist. In your case - the vendor folks.

If the problem can be fixed, it often takes more time than you or the customer (in my case, the patient - in your case - us) wish it would take.

And sometime, all you can do is mitigate the pain.

I hadn't really thought of our jobs being all that similar but on a certain level, you're right. The big difference - my decisions are ultimately not life or death.

But Wendy, in a certain way, they are. We rely on that information to help us with our job. Without the information, we could make a major mistake in our decision-making. So it may not be directly a "life-or-death" decision, but you are indirectly making life or death decisions too.

Not that I want to give you more pressure or anything......

Nope - no pressure at all....(Wendy laughs nervously)

In the throes of dealing with minimally functional systems and aggravated doctors, fielding 2 phones worth of calls at the same time, and trying not to take everything so danged personal - my conversation with Dr. F. reminded me that we really aren't that far apart. And sometimes, the day-to-day efforts you make to help others have much greater importance than the immediately obvious.

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