Our clinic recently relocated to a brand-new, large, state-of-the-art building which is able to accommodate a number of smaller clinics joined into one. I admit that I was not looking forward to the move. Our old clinic was small and intimate. There was 80s wallpaper and we had to share offices. My exam rooms were always freezing and the layout was poor. Given the small size of the physical space, I was able to quickly look down the hall to see if X-ray was backed up. I could walk 20 feet to the lab to clarify an order, and sharing an office meant that I could have a conversation about anything from spring break destinations to puzzling cases throughout the day.
The new building has many unique features. It is designed with the EHR in mind — the computer monitor swings easily so that I can share information with my patients. My desk is on wheels and can be raised or lowered depending on whether I want to sit or stand, and there is heat. My new office looks a little like a jail cell and is just a bit smaller than one, but, it's quiet, has a window, and is close to all my colleagues, which promotes social interaction. The carpet is clean, the walls are freshly painted, and my keyboard doesn’t yet have crumbs embedded between the keys.
My exam rooms are impersonal — clean, visually appealing, but impersonal. I love that every exam table is intact and there is no duct tape holding the vinyl covering together. However, I also don’t have anything about me adorning the walls. While I don’t need a wall of glory proclaiming my accomplishments in the exam room, I know that patients take some interest in where I did my residency or went to medical school. It was a way that I could be appropriately open with them about who I was beyond the stethoscope.
My patients, for the most part, like the new office, and often ask for my opinion. Am I happy with the move? What do I think? I remark on how fresh and new everything is and how nice the building looks before moving on to the visit. It's impossible to please veryone and some of my patients have expressed their concerns with my new workplace. One of my patients told me in advance she wouldn’t like the new office, and, as expected, she doesn’t. It is too big and impersonal for her taste. Another patient was concerned that the security measures, like automatically locking doors, which are now standard in everything from hospitals to schools made her feel like a criminal. Our previous security system was basically how fast you could run from an upset patient. The new system employs locked doors from the waiting room to prevent patients from wandering in.
With the new office, we have traded inefficiency for efficiency, tattered and worn for shiny and new, small for big, and personal for standard. Like all moves and changes, there is the good and the not-so-great. However, and this is the biggest surprise, whatever money was spent to design a functional flow is working. I am more efficient in this new space. The day feels calmer, and things flow smoothly. So, the real answer to my patient’s question is yes. Yes, I do like my new workplace.