Eight Things Healthcare Workers Want Their Patients To Know

June 5, 2017

There is often a line between patients and the people that work with them on their ailments. To an extent, it is an entirely necessary line; it is the professional division that helps to maintain the right attitude for healthcare. It would be impossible if that line was continually breached and the doctors, nurses, and support staff took every case to heart; the job would break them in a matter of weeks. So for the most part, that division is a necessary one for both the client and the staff.

However, it does have one downside: it has a tendency to mean neither party is able to feel totally comfortable to discuss issues with one another. Think about it: how often have you told a “white lie to a doctor who is asking how many units of alcohol you drink per week? Or exaggerated the health benefits of your diet?

It happens from the other side, too. Sometimes, healthcare staff does not want to offend or upset someone, so they are constantly walking a difficult path. They know an offended, upset, or angry patient is one who is not going to listen to them, so they have to try and be as polite as possible while still making the point they need to make.

Sometimes, it is good to get everything out in the open. Given the aforementioned professional barrier that has to be erected, the things that people who work in healthcare want their patients to know can be the most difficult to get communicated. Thus, if that barrier could drop for a time, what would they want to tell their patients?

Over to them…

#1: You Are Important, But You Can Not Be The Only Person We Focus On

There is no doubt that everyone wants to feel that they are important to the people who are providing their healthcare. That is valid, and it should be encouraged. No one wants to find themselves in a situation where their doctor does not understand their entire case; where a nurse is not paying attention; where a support worker needs to consult notes before they are able to give even the most basic of advice.

However, it is impossible for every single patient to be the “number one” patient for each medical professional. There has to be a line somewhere; a point at which we move on. So perhaps try and keep questions to a couple of minutes each — it is better to have to talk to us multiple times for a short while, than to expect to commandeer our attention for 30 minutes.

#2: We Are Tired

It should go without saying, but some patients struggle to understand this: those of us who work in healthcare are so frequently exhausted that they need a minute to get up to speed. It is not that we do not care or we are not paying attention; nor does it compromise the quality of care that we offer. We just need a second to click the details of our last patient out of our minds, so we can focus on you.

#3: We Cannot Give You Anything For The Common Cold

The common cold is a virus. Antiviral drugs do exist, but they take anywhere from 5-12 days to have any impact, by which point a cold will have run its course naturally. The same is true of the flu. The very best thing you can do with these conditions is drink plenty of fluids, try to stay warm, and rest whenever possible. There is no more special, amazing advice that a medical professional can offer you in these circumstances.

Antibiotics are not going to do anything for a cold, nor are they necessary for the majority of run-of-the-mill infections. Antibiotic resistance is a real and growing problem, so try and leave it up to us when we think antibiotics are the right course of treatment.

If your symptoms last for more than seven days, then of course, come and talk to us. But for the most part, managing at home is the very best thing you can do for your own health and the medical professional as a whole.

#4: Alternative Therapies Have Their Benefits

Sometimes, a doctor will tell someone that acupuncture might help their lower back pain or that they can get a huge amount of benefits from yoga. Often, this advice is readily and gratefully accepted, but sometimes it is dismissed without even being considered.

These therapies are best thought of as complementary therapies, rather than alternatives. They are not going to replace the treatment offered, although they can definitely help alongside it. So, do not be dismissive unless you have direct experience — they are trying to help you by presenting all the options available.

#5: Sometimes You Do Not Need A Doctor

There is a tendency from some patients to suggest that the only viable treatment they can be offered is from a doctor. This just is not the case; many conditions, illnesses, and ailments can be managed by nurses. Support workers might be able to give you better advice about how to access additional services or hospital appointments than a doctor could.

When someone makes the decision to train as a nurse or apply for support workers jobs in Staffnurse, they are doing it with the very best of intentions: they want to help people. It is a baseline requirement for those who choose to work in what can be a very challenging environment. If they think that your illness, malady, or question needs to be answered by a doctor, then that is what they are going to try and obtain for you. But if they can answer it, then it is quicker for everyone concerned if you trust that they have an idea of what they are talking about.

#6: Do Not Lie To Us

If you drink more than the recommended alcohol, like a takeaway or a fancy (though calorific) restaurant meal, vape or smoke — anything like that, then say something about it! Doctors are not there to judge you; they are there to ensure that you get the treatment you need for your situation. If you fail to notify them of these things, then it might have a real impact on the treatment plan that they prescribe for you. It might mean they sign off on a medication that you should not have if you do one of those things. So, keep that in mind and ‘fess up!

#7: Do Not Research Your Symptoms Online

It is great if you want to be actively involved in your own healthcare. It is useful; they encourage it. But whatever you do, do not research symptoms of an as-yet undiagnosed condition online. They say it for your sake as much as theirs; you can panic yourself needlessly within a few clicks or become convinced you have a certain malady, when you actually have something completely different.

If you are diagnosed with a condition and want to find out more about it, then go ahead; that is where all the health advice online is incredibly useful. However, until you get to the diagnosis, it is better to leave Dr. Google to see other patients.

#8: Do Not Think We Do Not Care

If they are stoic in the face of bad news or do not quite give you as much time as you believe you merit, please do not think they do not care. They do! They just have to carry on and go and see another patient, so they tuck it all into the back of their minds. They care very much about making you as healthy, comfortable, and confident as can be. After all, they want the same thing: what is right for you.

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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