Computers can be cruel

Watching both my sons struggle to get fully employed has been painful for them….and me. The online application process is just out of control. There’s no personal interaction-the applicant tosses their resume into the pre-programmed decision making tree which is designed to scan for key words and employers are inundated with resumes which spit out a few “lucky” applicants chosen to continue to run the gauntlet of virtually begging for a position they are often over qualified for. Such is the current state of the economy and well, rejection is just part of the game.

Yesterday, I applied for a position at a large healthcare hospital system in Chicago… Advocate. I upload my resume and complete the tedious application because I know how it goes. I submit the application and almost immediately I get an email saying I need to take a “Patient Experience Profile” within 72 hours. I know how this works, their computer has scanned my application and determined that I meet the basic requirements. So, I open up the link they sent me and it says there’s no right or wrong answer just try to pick the “best” answer. I go through the 50-60 “questions” -some are 3 words like compassionate, determined and frugal (?) which of these describes you best and which least.  A bunch of other questions ask how many times you’ve had unexcused absences or how would your co-workers/supervisor describe you. It’s all really ambiguous and annoying but I muddle though.

So keeping in mind that they say there are no right or wrong answers- imagine my surprise when I finish and get the following message:

Thank you for completing Advocate’s Patient Experience Profile.

Candidates must receive a passing score in order to continue in the selection process. At this time, you will not move forward in the selection process for positions that have patient contact. You will be eligible to re-take this assessment in six months. Until then, you may apply for a position that does not require patient contact.

Clearly there are right and wrong answers??

I am really starting to understand what my sons have been putting up with. I obviously have  a very good job and this gives me some insulation from the harshness of this message but what about people who are desperately trying to get a foot in the door?

Today I got the same message in an email and here is my reply:

Dear Advocate Health Care Recruitment,
I have provided compassionate and professional care to all of my patients, received positive feedback from colleagues and outstanding performance evaluations from managers over the past 20 years.
I have never been so insulted and degraded in my whole career as to be told by a computer that I am incompetent for a position with patient contact.
I am truly shocked and speechless.
Regards, Tracy A
To think this all took place over the weekend without any human intervention whatsoever. I wouldn’t want to work at a place that treats people like that anyway…

unloading at the dream factory

I’ve been very absent. Weirdly un-sharing but it hit me sometime last week during my long subway commute that I have been having intense, vivid, seemingly non-nonsensical dreams every night…starring all my children, parents and lovers, past and present…all jumbled up in various combinations.

The result is I am serenely clam and enjoying life. Today while mesmerized by the dryers at the laundromat I thought I really just need to stop worrying and enjoy every minute. I thought this will be one of those stories I can share with my grandkids.

Having experienced a spell of bad sleep, months/years of 3-5am insomnia~

I am enjoying nights full of sleep and dreams like a

pig in shit

Other things

Under stress people cope in different ways. I am increasingly desperate to retire to the country and raise chickens, grow vegetables, gather a collection of pets…waiting for some little people to call me granny.

In the meantime, I have started looking into my genealogy on that popular website.

I knew that 3 of my grandparents were German but thought all my life the key person, my paternal grandfather, was Irish. He and all the men before him back to the 1700’s were Scottish. Renfrew, Glasgow Scotland specifically. I have long wanted to visit Glasgow over its more tourist friendly big brother Edinborough because of its association with Rennie Macintosh.


So this family tree thing is a little harder than I thought….and it is becoming a feminist thing. Despite having a mostly immigrant family, I can find loads of stuff about the men…the ladies?  more tricky.

Their lasting identity is their married name. Men have naturalization papers, WW1 draft registration cards, ship manifests~~~the women were too busy at home to make any impact on social registers. I have yet to come across a woman in my family that didn’t have at least 5 children.

Anna Weber and Theresa Garber, who were you before you married Julius and Micheal???

Theresa and Micheal are a particularly endearing couple. They arrived in this country separately in 1906, Micheal had $7 in his pocket but they married in 1907 and subsequently had 6 daughters. (#2 being my grandma)

So much more pleasant than reading today’s news~~

Nurses at the frontlines

I just need to get that out there-Let’s be clear—-NURSES not doctors, resp techs, lab techs and least of all administrative staff are facing the highest risk of Ebola in this country.

In West Africa it may be a little more equal although I read Docs are on strike there but here as in most western healthcare systems the nurses are taking care of these patients. Gloved hands on skin, close proximity care.

Yesterday we had a 2 hour meeting about what staff should be wearing and today another 3 hours including a presentation directly from some of the docs in Nebraska and Atlanta (Emory) but not Texas. I want to point out that those are two vastly different scenarios.

Nebraska and Emory have special biological units where they have special teams that have been practicing for the past ten years, they had a few days notice before the arrival of their Ebola patients.

Texas, in their defense, is a run of the mill community hospital. Their Ebola patient arrived unannounced. I would stress that this is a huge difference which is reflected in the outcomes.

As this evolves and I think it will get worse before it gets better. Lots of people salute and praise serviceman, firemen and policemen but hey-you-nurse1

I just want to express my support and loyalty to my colleagues. I will be there guiding nurses in taking off their personal protective gear.

Circling the drain

I have in general been feeling very good. None of my signature depression and pessimism despite being surrounded by (insert the E word). The news about a nurse infected while caring for a patient from Liberia in Spain has not helped the general mood of my department. Today we were asked to agree to be the monitors of clinical staff when they enter/exit the room of a potential E patient. That’s pretty darn close to the fire….

It’s interesting how the hospital administration is indoctrinating staff that there are no Ebola patients only “rule out Ebola” (potential) patients. It’s important enough to authorize overtime for some very well paid nurses to come in at 6am just to train other staff to take off their gowns properly.

I have to confess that I started filling out an application to be a UN volunteer in West Africa. I feel that in some ways I am the perfect candidate-I am single, an experienced critical care and infection control nurse, world traveller, culturally sensitive.

For me the main drawback besides the risk of death is the heat. As a middle age woman I am heat adverse. Following that thought, sweat is a source of infection so I would hate to be sweated on or sweat on somebody else…

Anyway, the drama continues.

I was responding to a thread I have on this blog “the next person” (check it know you want to…) it takes a little thinking and I try to forget that it’s just me and my friend (check it out…we need more participation) and on this occasion I started out with:

The next person questions the meaning of life on a regular (daily) basis

but after various iterations I posted

The next person has a pair of red shoes

And there you have the meaning of life~~it’s the color of your shoes

Stay Calm

I am a Nurse and for the past 3-4 years I’ve specialized in Infection Prevention. Unless you are living under a rock you may have noticed what I have been hearing for the last 3 months- that the Ebola epidemic in West Africa is not slowing down.

I was getting annoyed at all the meetings we were having to discuss the status of the epidemic and our plans in case a patient wanders in to the ED but this week when a patient was identified and confirmed in Texas everything got a bit more serious.

I’m not one to panic but I can say that hospitals large and small are being advised by the CDC to have a protocol in place and this week revised some of their recommendations. READ HERE For instance, before ED staff were told to ask patients about recent travel if they presented with a temp greater than 101.5, now they have added in “or a subjective fever” meaning the patient may not have a fever at that moment but they felt feverish the night before. Obviously at this point travel history his VERY important but as there are no direct flights from West Africa to the US, all people from West Africa are arriving indirectly through various gateway cities in Europe which makes determining travel history a little tricky. And let’s face it African geography is not exactly a mandatory subject- as I was called by a nurse because a patient was from Gabon but when I told her that isn’t one of the source countries she said-well, how should I know….

I read this article with interest because it talks about how US Nurses say the are unprepared for Ebola patients. I think this is somewhat true and I think that nurses will have the greatest exposure risk but I also feel like nurses need to be open to hearing the facts about how the virus is transmitted (not airborne, by contact with body fluids-think HIV). Next week we will ramp up educating staff about how to don/doff their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE-gowns, gloves, masks, etc) removal being the key! Maybe that will help reassure them, at least the nurses at my hospital.

My own very humble opinion is that if the patient in Texas dies and/or any of his contacts becomes symptomatic the whole world will go bat shit crazy!!! The perception will be that if they can’t handle this in the US we are all doomed (and secretly thinking they could have done better). More likely the patient will survive and the world will finally dump a boatload of money and resources in West Africa and get this under control…

subway etiquette

As a seasoned public transportation patron…and we are talking London Tube, Chicago L, Paris Metro and now the New York City Subway I know what th unwritten rules are.

If the train car is not crowded…go ahead stretch out, feet up, back pack on the adjacent seat

But when you see a major influx of passengers-time to tighten up

some people didn’t get the memo or…..just think they are special