I am disgusted with myself. The hospital was having a blood drive today, and I thought it would be only proper, since surgeons and trauma teams use so much blood, to go donate some. After answering all the questions and everything, it turns out my blood pressure was four points too low. How useless is that? I refuse to give up, however. Another place near here is doing it tomorrow, so I think I’ll try one more time.

AMSA (AMA student body, even more socialist and liberal than the AMA) was having an “Advocacy Week” at school. Earlier they had a discussion of homosexuality, but it was an hour away from here, so I didn’t go. Today the topic was “Muslims in healthcare,” or what you should know about Muslim patients in order to “serve them effectively.” Well, I do want to do that – and I also want to speak up if they try to foist too many requirements on us. So I went.

Fortunately I knew one of the Christian first-year girls, so I sat by her, and whispered inflammatory comments to her, and she agreed, and I didn’t have to say them out loud. Most of the speech, by a Muslim woman wearing hijab, was actually fairly in order. Like: Muslims need to pray five times a day, so if you go into a hospital room and find your patient staring at the wall and ignoring you, they’re probably praying, try coming back a few minutes later. And, they need to fast during Ramadan, so you may have problems with pregnant women and diabetics then (although she insisted that such persons are exempt, but may not want to break the fast anyhow).

I started to get annoyed when she got on to modesty issues with women. Okay, so Muslim women are not the only ones who have issues with hospital gowns, and you should try to keep sheets and blankets over everybody. And Muslim women are not the only ones who dislike male doctors and nurses; so what gives them the prerogative to insist on only females, especially only female nurses? (And if a Muslim woman wants to stand on ceremony as a patient, then she should be wearing hijab; if she’s not dressing differently, then she doesn’t merit any more concern than the average American woman does.)  And then she came to cultural issues: many Middle Easterners believe that cold air will make them sick; so try to keep the hospital room, OR room, etc, warm. I dislike cold OR rooms too! They aren’t made that way because American patients like being wheeled into a cold OR! Tsk.

I limited myself to commenting in an enthusiastic tone of voice that it was wonderful that she had shared about how the Muslim religion impacts healthcare, because so many secularists in America have the impression that religion is a private matter; whereas really Christianity also, although not having as many rules, also affects the way that patients think about illness and death; and that JCAHO requires us to take spiritual histories, so (contrary to her position) it’s legitimate to ask patients whether they have a spiritual background, or any religious preferences.

This evening is my first shift at the ER; my sister is working as an EMT in the same county. She’s promising to gin up some business. I’m excited to finally arrive in the most legendary department of the hospital. I’m hoping that the students’ rumors about this place are true, and I get some responsibility and procedures here.

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