How do non-medical people navigate this complicated health care system that we have in the US?
Recently, I had a life changing experience that thankfully resulted in the "all clear." diagnosis, but it certainly changed me as a person and made me much more aware of my own mortality.
I often wonder how non-medical folks navigate through this crazy system and understand what's really going on behind the scenes. I truly feel sorry for them because they don't know the right questions to ask and when to ask them.
They're completely vulnerable and many are so very fearful. Fear of the unknown can be extremely stressful and quite frankly I don't believe many physicians and nurses should even be practicing because they've either become too cynical or they are tired of their job and it shows. Unfortunately, until a nurse (or physician) is facing their own health issues we don't see things through the eyes of a patient.
I've noticed that when I announce in a medical setting that I'm a nurse, I'm automatically treated better. It shouldn't be that way.
Most people are smarter than they've ever been about their own health. Google is to go-to for everyone these days and while there's a lot of nonsense on Google, there's also a lot of excellent information there. We frequently underestimate out patients' ability to understand what's going on, so we tend to "dumb it down." It's a one size fits all approach to healthcare and completely wrong. Because of this approach, the result is an explanation that is very vague and leaves the patient in a tail spin.
The minute we meet a patient we should be assessing them for their ability to understand medical terminology and adjust the way we approach them with information and teaching. We should be looking for clues that they understand what we're saying. If a patient looks perplexed, stop and ask them what they don't understand.
We're dealing with human beings. People with feelings who are often terrified of what's happening to them. For many patients, all it takes is just a few more minutes out of our day to make sure they understand everything in this confusing medical world that we live, eat and breathe every day. Remember they don't live in our world. Every patient deserves to be treated as an individual and healthcare should never be of the cookie cutter variety.
I've never felt the realization of my own mortality staring me in the face more-so than the last couple of weeks and I'm a nurse. Can you imagine how non-nurses feel? When they tell me I need an ultrasound or MRI, I know exactly why they want to do the procedure and what they're looking for. We assume nonmedical people comprehend all this medical terminology too.
You're NOT always going to be the nurse. There will come a time for ALL of us when we are forced to be the patient and we are at the mercy of other healthcare professionals. We have to put our lives in their hands and hope they treat us well.
I worked as a surgical nurse for many years and I dealt with patients who were often more frightened than they'd ever been in their life. The first thing you lose when you become anxious is your ability to focus and comprehensively listen to what others are saying.
Have patience with your patients! They deserve it. Afterall, you may be that patient one day. Terrified...and sometimes all it takes is a smile and a caring attitude to make all the difference.
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