Well, I have to be honest…
I don’t really know what secretaries are really thinking!
Especially emergency department secretaries.
But I can tell you that a great ED secretary can make a department!
Call them what you will: unit clerks, secretaries or administrative assistants.
They all have one thing in common.
An uncanny ability to multitask.
In honor of Administrative Professionals Week, I’d like to pay homage to the intrepid individuals who man the front lines of the emergency department.
Have you ever really watched an ED secretary at work?
At any given time, they are simultaneously:
- Making a phone call to two different physician exchanges.
- Greeting patients as they come in the door with a smile and directing them to triage.
- Answering the two pages they placed ten minutes before.
- Putting orders in the computer.
- Paging the ER doc to the phone.
- Deflecting the anger of patients who have had to wait 3.87 minutes before being roomed.
- Repeating on the phone, for the 267th time in an hour, that the department does not have advice nurses but would be happy to care for them should they decide to come in.
- Putting in patient charges.
- Catching the charts that the nurses forgot to sign.
- Keeping track of the five piles of unfinished charts that are spread around the nursing station.
- Pulling up lab results for the consultants who arrive in the department.
- Paging the charge nurse to take the two sick calls that just came in.
- Responding to the various requests of staff nurses for labs or finding a rarely-used form.
- Listening to the nurses ventilate about the frustrations of their job. Okay, they listen to a ton of griping!
And they do it all with a smile.
They never slow down because if they slow down, so does the department.
They are privy to every patient secret in the department and are the epitome of HIPAA compliance.
Their bladder capacity rivals that of an RN.
They hear it all, they see it all…
They do it all.
Should you ever doubt the value of your emergency department administrative assistant, just imagine working a shift without them.
And then remember to say “thank you” to them.
But especially this week.