Sunday, March 16, 2008

My Sexy New Job

So I started work last week at an NHS walk-in centre. For those of you who've never had the pleasure of minor illness or injury in England, a walk-in centre is a clinic where you don't need an appointment. You also don't need to register or show your NHS number, which means we get a fair amount of foreigners, including clueless American students who rush in and flash their insurance cards and ask in a panic whether we take any of them.

This happened to Ryan and I when we first moved here. I had an allergic reaction after a 10 mile hike in the Cotswolds and we went to the walk-in centre and blurted out "We're from America. We aren't registered, we don't know who to see, can you help with this? I think I have hives or something!" Anyone who's seen this mad dash can only feel fondly toward socialized medicine.

So my new job consists of entering patient information into a computer database and answering phones. But mostly watching BBC or reading magazines. It's pretty sweet. Also, I get to watch the behind-the-scenes action, like who will be waiting a long time and who will be prioritized. Its a pretty quick wait at our clinic, it is hidden in a secret location so the lines are short. I'm not a nurse, and people aren't required to tell me anything about their ailments, but they usually do.

"Hello, would you like to see a nurse?"
"Yes, I've got this terrible rash/eye problem/toothache/sprained ankle/itchy anus"
(I'm not joking)

But mostly what we see patients for are emergency contraception and getting their ear wax syringed out. I never figured these would be chronic or common complaints, but it seems so. However, the funniest part of the job is the new NHS campaign to have under 25s tested for STDs. There is currently a free holiday give-away for everyone who gets a chlamydia test! So now I hear alot of people saying "I don't get around or anything, but I figured, you know, you never know, so I might as well get the test..." Hey, I'm not here to judge, just to take the details.

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