Los Angeles Center For Enriched Studies

Being an intern at Kaiser Permanente: Beyond doctors and patients

the main hospital at Kaiser
the main hospital at Kaiser

I’ve always dreamed of becoming a doctor. I didn’t know what type or what I would be doing, but I just knew that I needed to be a doctor. One of the reasons was that becoming anything less in the medical field would make me less significant. As a nurse or an assistant, I would never be able to make the same impact I would have as a doctor. But, during my internship, I came to realize that there is so much more to a hospital than just doctors and patients. Every person in between is vital to one of the biggest family there is, the hospital, specifically Kaiser Permanente.

my office in the cardiac surgery department
my office in the cardiac surgery department

It’s obvious that we need the doctors and the patients, but do we often recognize the nurses and the office workers for what they do?

In my department, Cardiac Surgery, the nurses run the clinic. They schedule patients for surgeries as well as pre- and post-op (operation) appointments, and prepare each patient for the surgery by checking their vitals and sending them to do any lab work, if necessary. Sometimes they have to rearrange appointments because doctors might go into an emergency surgery, and sometimes they need to chase down patients for the paperwork that they need.

But, the one obvious thing is that these people come to spend more time with the patients then the doctors do. At most, a doctor will see a patient before the surgery for maybe an hour and during the surgery, when the patient is unconscious. However, the nurses see the patients for days on end. Before cardiovascular surgery, the patients have to go through checking vitals, doing blood work, receiving dental clearance, and scans of the heart. The nurses would take them every step of the way, from the start at the consults to the end of post-op appointments.

Sadly, it’s so common that the patients remember the doctor’s names from top of their heads, but how often do they remember nurses’ names, even though they have been with them for so long. That’s why I feel as if nurses and other workers are so unrecognized and unappreciated, despite the great contribution that they give to the whole. Without them, the hospital would not have this organization, and without them, doctors would not be able to have surgeries on their patients.

I’m not sure what the future holds for me still. But, the one thing I am sure of is that no matter what I do in the medical field (because I do want to go into the medical field for sure) I will be able to know that I can make a difference. I can be unrecognized and unappreciated, but I will be making an impact. If I get to be a nurse, I know that that person is living today because I contributed and I worked hard to arrange their surgeries. In the end, that’s what counts that I, not others, believe and recognize myself for doing good for this world.