The Three-Minute Waiting Game

The hospital is a busy place with multitasking happening 24/7. Time is money especially when surgeons are involved. Questions like “Are we going on time? Do you know how many patients are waiting for me in my office?”

When we prep the abdomen with chloraprep (antiseptic), it requires a three-minute drying time. Without fail, every surgeon stands there with the drape, inpatient. I would be the same way. They can’t do anything (such as check a cell phone) except wait because they are sterile. 

We have to wait many times throughout the day.  Patient care needs to be coordinated with a multidisciplinary team, so we wait. Your coworker is slow at the pyxis removing the morning medications, so we wait. We pick the wrong line at the supermarket as the person writes a check, so we wait. The red light is taking forever to change, so we wait.

It’s become second nature for so many of us to pull out the phone, check email, surf the web or play a game. Are we so afraid of idle time? Do we not like feeling alone? Is it a way of us trying to be back in control of our environment? As a Nurse, my patients continually show me the benefits of working with uncertainty. When we learn to accept and adapt to life’s uncertainties, we refine our coping skills. When we fight against every limitations the day brings, in order to get more control and get our way, we reinforce that conditioning. There is nothing wrong with choosing an easier path but when we consistently fight against reality, we have very few resources to cope when we can’t alter reality.