Broadly speaking I consider medical professionals involved in my care to fit into one of two categories: those who get it and those who don’t (of course, in reality this is probably more of a continuum than a dichotomy).
It can seem like all of us working in the healthcare profession are increasingly burdened with bureaucracy, time limitations and heavy caseloads. For self preservation it can be easier to focus on targets, the diagnosed condition or test results. There can be precious little time to read over complex medical histories, to deal with seemingly unfound anxieties or to learn what name a patient wants to be called by.
Somewhere along the way it can be easy to forget the person.
Yet, we know from the Francis Enquiry the potentially tragic consequences of such a culture (Kapus, 2014).
I don’t think it actually takes that much to make a patient feel like a person. Small gestures such as validating their concerns as you would a friend or relative, holding in mind that for them past medical experiences may have been traumatic, getting that they probably feel vulnerable and disempowered can convey empathy, respect and compassion. Simple acts of consideration can make all the difference, such as trying to not keep people waiting, respecting privacy as much as possible and offering a smile that reassures.
Of course, providing such quality care for others relies on being psychologically, emotionally and physically fit oneself. The importance of self care cannot be overestimated. Constantly giving without restoring personal wellbeing can lead to “burnout” so our duty of care must include ourself.
I was delighted to be invited to write an article on ‘Addressing the Psychological impact of living with a heart condition from birth’ aimed at medical professionals for ‘Cardiology News’. This piece aims to improve understanding of the experience of living with a heart condition from birth, what this can mean for individuals and how medical professionals and organisations can better support this journey.
In my experience, the medical professionals who “get it” are without doubt the best. Besides, role reversal from care provider to patient can come easily and unexpectedly. Reason enough to pay it forward.
Please click here for free access to the article.
Francis R. (2013). Report of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry. Executive Summary. London: The Stationery Office.
Kapur, N (2014) Mid Staffordshire Hospital and the Francis Report, Psychologist, 27, p16-20 (see: http://www.thepsychologist.org.uk/archive/archive_home.cfm/volumeID_27-editionID_235-ArticleID_2391-getfile_getPDF/thepsychologist/0114kapu.pdf).