Every Tuesday, I have two back-to-back four hour shifts at the Joseph M Smith Community Health Center. At Joseph Smith, each individual therapy session is 45 minutes, and us interns are encouraged to schedule five sessions during each shift. This means that in an ideal world, I would see ten patients in eight hours today.
Of course, this never actually happens, due to our high volume of no shows. A no show is exactly what it sounds like; it means that a patient does not come to a session without calling to cancel ahead of time. So far today, I have had five scheduled appointments, but have only actually met with two patients. The other three patients no showed.
In community health centers, this is a fairly common occurence. Community health centers primarily serve working class individuals, many of whom do not or can not work, and many of whom have difficulties arranging transportation to and from appointments. Although no shows used to bother me tremendously, I’ve come to understand that they do not suggest a lack of interest in therapy. Rather, they reflect the difficulty that many of our patients have with the activities of daily living.
No shows are a funny thing, because when there are a lot of them, I always assume that I will have a mellow day. Yet, this is never the case, because aside from conducting therapy, there are a number of other tasks that are required of us. Today, for example, I’ve used my “free” time to return phone calls, schedule appointments, consult with another of one client’s providers, and send emails to supervisors and coworkers.
And now I see that I’ve successfully filled this current 45 minute opening by writing a few emails and this post. I have a client coming in five minutes (theoretically, anyway), so I’m off to read through my notes to refresh my memory on the case.