Duty · Pre Planning Your Scene · Sometimes You Get to Think That You Have Accomplished Something!

Health Care Stagecraft

So, I see children from time to time. Commonly, they are dubious about the entire “Going to the doctor” thing (yeah, I DO realize that I am not a physician, I am a midlevel. May I observe you explain that distinction, to an anxious child?) With that as a starting point, you can imagine that my approaching said anxious child with a stethoscope, and then with an otoscope (“the ear looking thingy”) might not end well. Yeah, me too.

One of the lessons I learned on Da Street (besides knock from the side of the door, and always have a second way out of any room I enter, and always have a knife, and…well, the important lesson is…..) is misdirection. On the street this manifested itself as changing the topic of conversation, as, on a hostile scene, announcing, “WE have to go and get the stretcher!”, and then both of us doing so, and motoring merrily away from the threatened free fire zone. Returning, if at all, with police.

In a more sedate clinical setting, this manifests itself with my (now) stock spiel for kids.

“This here (hold stethoscope up) is my body tickling thingy. Now, this is really, really tickley, but I only have one, right? That’s not enough to share. So, if you laugh, everybody will know how much fun it is, and they will be sad. ‘Boo-Hoo! (insert child’s name here) got tickled, and I didn’t! That is so unfair! I am so sad!’ Now, we don’t want them to be sad, do we?” (generally, toddler-sober negative head wag) “So, try very hard not to laugh, so that they are not sad! Okay?”

(generally, “ok”)

Once heart and lungs are auscultated, I continue with my misdirection. “You did so very, very well in not laughing, now we move up to the ear tickley thingey! Same rules, try not to laugh so that they do not know how much fun it is, and they are not sad that I cannot share, okay?”

Generally, again, “Okay.” While the child is trying to identify what the heck is so darned tickley about otoscopy, I finish.

One bonus point, is, even if the child screams and kicks and writhes, I can congratulate them. “Wow! You did so very well! I don’t think that they even suspect how much fun that was! You can stop pretending, now! You have successfully finished! Well done!”

Sometimes it is healthcare stagecraft, that lets you complete your job.


5 thoughts on “Health Care Stagecraft

  1. We took popsicles on the trips when vaccinations were scheduled. Ice is magic. Cool the target. Hand the popsicle to the kid-unit and let them unwrap it. As soon as it was in the mouth, Doc Curmudgeon would make the pup-tent and do-the-deed.

    My dentist also had a “trick”. He found that pulling the front door of the pup-tent into the needle was less painful (for unknown reasons) than plunging the needle into the pup-tent.

    Obviously, works best for SQ injections.


  2. I have been here before, but it was awhile ago. I note that both Eaton Rapids Joe and myself are from the great state of Michigan. My hometown is Hesperia, but I have lived about half of my 60 years in Muskegon.
    I have been a Ham Radio operator since about 1972, but for 2 years or so. I am only active in 2 meters now, as it is just too expensive to get onto IT for now.
    I am retired, after over 35 years spent making steel in a melt shop. I just wanted to let you know that your posts are still relevant and interesting.
    Be well and stay safe.



    1. Michigander myself, Grand Rapids. Moved in 1963 as a toddler to Oregon. I did live there for 3 years working at Grand Rapids Osteopathic some years ago.


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