One Role, Two Styles

My Dad has been in the hospital recently. His condition is serious enough to keep him in the Neurological ICU for a multi-night stay. Since he is in such a high-risk care area, there is a dedicated nurse to watch over him; one for the 12-hour day shift and one for the 12-hour overnight shift. Our day shift nurse was Justin and our night shift nurse was Vicki.

Interestingly, they have the same role but definitely very different personas. Each of the nurses was responsible for administering medicine, monitoring his IV’s, watching his pulse and oxygen levels, changing his clothes and bathing and also general room cleanliness and oversight. Both of them accomplished these tasks and both were exceptional at considering the patient care. But watching them work, I could definitely tell that without a doubt, Vicki was a Folder and Justin was a Crumpler.

At the beginning of each shift, without any delay, Vicki would clean the whiteboard in the room and immediately record who was now on duty, the pain goals and other bits of information. She didn’t just focus on taking care of that task, she was nearly militant in stride and approach. Each time she had to move my Dad, either to get him out of bed or to move the entire bed to another procedure, you could see her going through a mental checklist and prepping each line to make sure nothing would get caught up. Temperature checks were conducted at the exact same cadence on every one of her shifts.

Justin had a different style. The whiteboard got updated when he came on shift, but usually within the first half-hour. When he went to change the garbage, he would pull out the used bag and then first have to open the larger bag he was putting the garbage in, versus having the larger bag prepped and ready to go. He would rush to my Dad’s side to help him as he wanted to get out of bed and then chase the lines backward to catch them from getting hung up. He was full of compassion and care, but not process.

Both of these nurses really took great care of my Dad – I don’t want you to think otherwise. What was really interesting was that while we all preferred how “buttoned up” Vicki seemed, Justin’s bedside manner and attitude was preferable. Vicki actually appeared unapproachable or stand-offish in conversation at times because her responses were a bit more robotic. Justin on the other hand, was way more open and free with discussion and you could feel his concern and compassion in the way that he spoke. I know Vicki cared and had compassion; she even spoke about how she tries to treat each patient as if it were her in the bed and her attention to detail proved that out – it’s just that the excessive folder process-driven nature was keeping the emotion out of her voice.

Funny enough, my Dad preferred Vicki because I think the approach of checklists and process provided a level of comfort and confidence he needed in that time. As a quick side bar, my Dad is a Crumpler himself. While he has Folder tendencies, he is most definitely a Crumpler at heart – thoroughly proven by his ‘filing system’ (or lack thereof) of piles and piles of paper in his home office that we rooted through to try and find some things for the doctors. But the Crumpler appreciated the Folder in this situation, proving again how powerful a Folder and Crumpler together can be.

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