The five most important people you meet in the hospital

Shutterstock | Micolas
Shutterstock | Micolas

Ever wonder how to prioritize your relationships at work? Here’s a handy-dandy guide for how to divide your time!

1. The doctors
You can’t live without ’em, true, but you also can’t live with ’em. They’re handy for writing orders and discharging patients, but they also tend to clog up the hallways on rounds and eat the last brownie in the breakroom. Maintain a collegial, polite relationship. Do not, under any circumstances, put your fingers through the bars of their cage. They might get frightened and bite, or explode in a shower of index cards and tongue blades.

2. The folks who serve on the lunch line
A consistently polite and kind attitude will get you larger portions of mashed potato and less of that weird broccoli stuff the cafeteria serves on Thursday. A corollary to this is the guy who delivers sandwiches: Tip well and smile. Never antagonize the people who feed you.

3. Housekeeping
Let’s be real: Without housekeeping and janitorial services, nothing would ever get done. Save cookies for these folks when you bake a batch, as they have the grossest, heaviest and least-respected job in the hospital. Be ebullient with your thanks when somebody stat-cleans a room in a way that’s really stat and really clean.

4. Your unit secretary
Unit secretaries aren’t hired off the street. Instead, in a process that I can only imagine mirrors that of the training of a reincarnated lama, they’re inculcated in hospital mysteries over a period of years, then sent to us mortals as guides and teachers. Most unit secretaries are bulletproof, and all of them glow in the dark.

5. The dude who delivers the coffee
Do not antagonize this person. One mistake, one wrong word, and you’ll be drinking that decaf Nescafe that’s been sitting in the cabinet since the place was built. Nothing, and I mean nothing, happens in a hospital without coffee. Scientists in secret laboratories are frantically working at this very minute to devise a way to pump aerosolized caffeine through the air ducts, but they’re not there yet. Until they succeed, the coffee dude is the most important person in the American healthcare system.

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Agatha Lellis

Agatha Lellis is a nurse whose coffee is brought to her every morning by a chipmunk. Bluebirds help her to dress, and small woodland creatures sing her to sleep each night. She writes a monthly advice column, "Ask Aunt Agatha," here on Scrubs; you can send her questions to be answered at

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2 Responses to The five most important people you meet in the hospital

  1. NurseGLC RN

    Don’t forget to be REALLY nice to your CNA! They can be your best friend, or your worst enemy……

  2. Victoria Harmsen-Van Dalsen

    When I was working as an RN, we never had time to go all the way to the cafeteria for our lunch/dinners. Almost all of us brown bagged our meals. Same with the coffee. We had a dual Bunn coffee pot in our break room. We had to buy our own coffee, sugar, and creamery. We all took turns bringing in these items. Spot on about housekeeping staff and the unit secretary, and the doctors!!