I'm doing a research project that involves collecting a large number of patient samples. Objectively, I'm doing fine so far, but I'm finding the process very stressful, especially the part where I have to talk to their clinicians. Is there a way I can streamline it to make it less anxiety-inducing for me? Please advise, as I'm a little embarrassed to ask my supervisor.
posted by cucumber patch to Human Relations (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The project involves collecting quick non-invasive samples from patients at a hospital. After defining the patient inclusion criteria with my supervisor, he pretty much set me loose on the hospital, so for the past few weeks I've been wandering around the different departments, kit in hand, collecting samples. I'll set up shop in a different department each day, introduce myself to whichever clinicians are there, try and get a sense of their schedule, and step in when I feel it's appropriate (usually at the start or end of the appointment). The process takes a few minutes, mostly me talking to the patient, asking them some questions, then taking the sample. I also have to ask the clinician questions about the patient.
My main concerns are:
-- Initially I was doing this in the clinician's bay, but it started to feel disruptive. I found that the best way was to set up my own bay, so I could take the patient at the end of the appointment and that way the dentist wouldn't have to worry about running late. This still involves keeping tabs on which patients are finishing up soon, so I can whisk them away. That means a lot of hovering and walking around the edges of the bays, which I find aimless and annoying, and the nurses probably do too.
-- I thought about staying in the same department for a week at a time, to allow people to get familiar with me and adopt a routine, but not all the same dentists are there every day, and not all departments are open every day.
-- I'm finding it hard to find the balance between being pushy enough that I get enough samples, but not so obnoxious that I get told to stay away permanently. I constantly worry that I'm bothering the dentists, from the first introduction, to the part where I take the patient, to the part where I come back and ask questions. They have tight schedules and always look so damn busy.
-- I can be very bubbly and chatty when I need to be, but get pushed off balance easily. At the slightest sign of annoyance, or recalcitrance on the dentist's part, I immediately back off. I'm hesitant to impose on even the friendliest, most helpful ones. I feel like I could have collected way more by now if I hadn't hesitated on so many opportunities. Also, when I'm distracted/tired/anxious I do the full 180 to being more aloof and abrupt, with less chatty filler, and then people tend to avoid me. There's no middle ground.
I'm not doing badly at all - my supervisor seemed pleased with the amount I have so far, and I'm well on track to reach my quota before the deadline in two weeks. I CAN just slog through the bad bits, and don't get me wrong, I actually do like this project. I just dread going to the hospital every day and I dread having to talk to everyone, and the thousand little 'no's really wear on the ego after a while. This weird rejection therapy isn't helping me at all. I've gone back to subconsciously clenching my teeth and grinding them at night - surely there's a better way of doing this that will allow me to sleep properly.
If I were just a researcher who didn't have to see these people again, I wouldn't worry so much. But I'm actually a dental student so this is a fantastic networking opportunity. I'm enjoying getting to meet the dentists and nurses, but I don't want to leave them with a bad impression for when I'll be there in future.
I won't end up seeing my therapist until the project ends, so until then, any advice you can offer me would be appreciated.