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"We Know Exactly What's Wrong With You, We Just Aren't Allowed To Tell You": Caretakers And Lifesavers Are Sharing Secrets From Their Jobs

"I got my qualification for designing and manufacturing bone level implants by watching 30 minutes of Youtube videos."

Recently, I asked the BuzzFeed Community to anonymously share the secrets of their jobs. Out of the 538 secrets I got, the ones from caregivers and lifesavers really kind of stood out to me. So...here they are!

1. "Medical device rep here. You know that complicated spine surgery you just had? There’s a good chance that critical aspects of your care were performed by your surgeon using specialized tools for the very first time, and were directed from someone like me, in real time, with no special medical training, and with maybe a week of product training."

A spinal x-ray

2. "I was a Red Cross certified lifeguard and swim instructor for almost a decade. Some public pools will actively prevent their lifeguards from obtaining more advanced first aid/lifesaving certifications so that they cannot be held liable in the event of an emergency requiring that level of care. For example, they don't want their lifeguards to be certified in using BVMs (bag valve masks) or other equipment because then the lifeguard is obligated to provide that care if it is required, and this opens the facility to more liability if something goes wrong and a complaint or lawsuit is brought against them."

CPR training with a dummy

3. "When you get your mammogram, we do not care if you forgot to shave under your arms or if you have moles. It’s preferable if you’ve cleaned under your breasts, but we will position you the same even if you haven’t. But please, don’t make it weird. If you say, 'Do you enjoy touching women’s boobs all day?' We will laugh it off, but you’ve just made it suddenly awkward. We are providing you with a medical procedure. We are in no way enjoying it, but we can, in fact, enjoy our job and the singular service we provide without it being sexualized by you. Don’t make it weird."

Mammogram image

4. "I am an X-ray tech at a hospital. We know exactly what's wrong with you; we just aren’t allowed to tell you. The radiologist officially has to read the X-rays. Also, if we X-ray your abdomen, we can see if you are about to fart on us."


5. "Assisted living facilities are filthy. Despite the nursing staff, we are not a nursing home. We are not held to the same standards of cleanliness or care. The state inspectors have never entered my unit in the 10 years I've worked there. We fly right under the radar."

A hospital hallway

6. "If you smoke cigarettes, your dental hygienist can tell. We won’t judge you for it. The smell will hide up underneath your gums and comes out when cleaned. No use lying about the stain being 'only wine and coffee.' You either smoke, or you’ve made out with lit cigarettes."

Someone's teeth being worked on

7. "Drowning DOES NOT LOOK LIKE THEY SHOW YOU IN THE MOVIES/TV SHOWS. It is far more subtle, and it is SO easy for a person to be in very serious distress and not be noticed. The busier the facility is, the more dangerous it is, but drownings can happen in very small groups (like a group swim class) very quickly. Please listen to the lifeguards when they tell you that your 4-year-old must be accompanied in the water by an adult. I am begging you."

A person swimming

8. "I work on a labor and delivery floor, and nothing is more amusing to us than when patients demand to have their epidural done by an anesthesiologist (the doctor) instead of the CRNA (certified registered nurse anesthetist). Epidurals are a physical skill, and in most hospitals, CRNAs do the vast majority of them, meaning that in most cases, CRNAs are faster and more accurate than the docs simply because they're regularly practicing. The patients who demand a doctor often end up with not-so-great epidurals and either suffer through the rest of their labor or end up needing it redone. We will try to subtly steer patients in the right direction, but unfortunately, a lot of the time they don't listen."

An X-ray

9. "I drew blood at a blood bank for years. I can’t speak for all of them, obviously, but the one I was at was so money hungry that we would get written up for 'wasting' blood bags and supplies, meaning that if a donor passed out and we were unable to get a full bag, if their vein collapsed, or if they asked us to stop, it would count against us for our success rates. Then, our rates were posted for everybody in the company to see. So, the more unsuccessful units you have, the worse your numbers are, and you are less likely to get raises/promotions, and everybody thinks you are a terrible phlebotomist. This led to people leaving needles in arms of passed out people, painful digging to try to find a vein without removing the needle, or people just being denied for having 'bad veins,' when in reality, somebody was probably just too scared to try out of fear for their rates."

Someone taking blood from a patient

10. "I work at an animal hospital that boards animals, so we have pets staying with us. Do not board your animals at a vet office or any kind of kennel if you can help it. It’s an issue across the board: We simply cannot give your pets the attention they deserve. I try to give them love and attention whenever I can, but sometimes, there just isn’t time since everyone needs help with emergencies, appointments, and everything like that. Our boarders have their basic needs taken care of, but they get kind of neglected otherwise. I’ve seen firsthand how sad it makes them to board for so long, even with the attention and love that I and my coworkers do give them. Honestly, that’s probably one of the worst routine parts of my job."

Dogs in kennels

11. "I’m a babysitter. Sometimes, if we don’t feel comfortable working for you, we will say we are busy or unavailable. It may be you, your child or children, the pay, or even your house and its cleanliness."

A woman tied to a chair with a dog looking at her

12. "I work for a very large pharmacy division of a well-known healthcare company. I literally cannot advise you on insurance plans, or how to pick better insurance because I'll go to jail. Also, 99.9% of the time, if you and I both bother your doctor, they tend to respond more quickly."

A person holding pills while on the phone

13. "I'm a lab tech. I do not routinely draw blood and have no idea why samples aren't in the lab yet. Phlebotomy is its own department. That being said, I drew blood for 12 years before going to school and while in school. I also work in a small hospital where, here and there, I do draw blood due to my skill level. I will do anything possible to make your experience positive, but that's not always possible. If I walk into a room and you address me instantly as 'you better have a butterfly [needle],' then of course, that's what I'm going to use…the biggest butterfly I have."

A butterfly needle

14. "Having your dog’s teeth brushed at the groomer is the biggest waste of money if you don’t do regular dental maintenance on them. If their teeth are terrible, brushing them once every few months is just going to make their gums bleed, and we’ll just not do it and spray some breath spray in their mouths instead."

a dog's teeth

15. "Anesthetist here. When we ask you if you drink or do drugs, don’t lie and tell us you’re clean because we know. We always know. The drugs we use tend to have a different type of effect if you have had a drink or done drugs recently. We don’t care about your drug/alcohol use. We only ask so we can change our medication type and dose, because alcohol and drugs tend to alter how these medications act."

A doctor giving oxygen to a patient

16. "I worked as a veterinary pharma rep for my career. Owning a pet is both a large responsibility and expense as well. Before retiring, a rabies vaccine cost to the doctor was about $3.00, yet clients were charged close to $30.00. Try your local county SPCA or rabies clinic."

A vet giving a shot to a dog

17. "I work in childcare. We’re required to write a report on any incident involving one of the children, like an injury, fight, or inappropriate behavior. Most of the time something happens, nobody writes about it. Either we talk to a supervisor, and not much happens, or there’s so much confusion of the matter that it never gets written. A lot of what happens to kids on our watch doesn’t make it back to the parents."

A teacher with kids

18. "I worked as a dental technician for years, and maybe 10% of the people in a lab had formal training before they started producing dental crowns, bridges, and implants. People generally learn on the job and have no medical or dental training that would be considered certified. I got my qualification for designing and manufacturing bone level implants by watching 30 minutes of YouTube videos. Still, dental technicians put more thought and consideration of angles and bone density than the average dentist before deciding where to drill into your jaw. Most dentists figure they can place implants correctly on the fly, and it makes designing a crown or bridge to go with it way more difficult, and the finished product is more likely to break soon."

A molding of teeth

19. Finally: "If you really hate your doctor, go to a new one! Your doctor should empower you and make you feel not only educated, but also be a person you can really talk to about anything. If you don't feel this way about your current doctor, go see a new one. I promise Dr. Joe from your youth would much rather see you go to a doctor you can have honest conversations with about your heath."

A doctor talking with a patient

Care to contribute a secret about the place you work? It's completely anonymous using this Google form, and your submission may be used for an upcoming BuzzFeed Community post.