Apropos of Nothing

My mother died.

Granted, this was about 6 years ago, but still.

Sitting at graduation I cried.  I cried because, even though I had my family around me, the person that I wanted most to share it with wasn’t there.  And I cried because it was a “Gift of the Magi” moment.  You see, my mother’s death, along with a handful of other things, guided me towards becoming a nurse.  So at that moment I was missing one of the most important people of my life, but if she had been there, then that moment might never have come to be.


Published in: on December 23, 2009 at 8:15 am  Leave a Comment  


Okay, here’s the thing, we are not dumb.  No one uses actual film anymore.  So if you are carrying around one film canister, I have a pretty damn good idea of what is really in there.


Published in: on January 20, 2009 at 6:42 am  Leave a Comment  

Who’s your Momma?

Our clinical rotation works like this, on Monday a group of eight students is at the hospital, then on Monday when they are done our group, of seven (we lost someone already) goes in to pick up our assignments and then on Tuesday we have our clinicals.  This means that on Tuesdays, we usually have the patients that have already had student nurses the day before.  I always take advantage of this and see who had my patients so I can ask questions.

Lately, I’ve had a rash of patients that I’ve been told by the previous student were difficult, mean, non-compliant, etc.  What I’ve noticed is that for me, they don’t act that way.  Now, I’m not mean, and strict and evil, but I’m not afraid to put limits on what I’ll do and to reinforce my role in our therapeutic relationship.  Mostly I think it is because I’m a mom and I’ve heard all the excuses, so I act a bit like a mom to my patients.  I walk in, introduce myself, tell them what we are going to do and see if they have questions, then I get what needs to be done, done and I’m finished.

For the last three weeks I’ve had patients who were terrors to their student nurses the day before and angels to me the next day.  And all the patients have thanked me and told me how much they enjoyed having me care for them.  In the end I think everyone just wants their momma…

Published in: on December 3, 2008 at 2:32 am  Leave a Comment  

Clients vs Patients

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about where healthcare is going.  One of the things that is really disturbing to me is the use of the term “clients” in place of “patients”.  This may seem like a little thing at first, but I believe that it has some much deeper issues and repercussions.

A Client is defined by dictionary.com as :

1. a person or group that uses the professional advice or services of a lawyer, accountant, advertising agency, architect, etc.
2. a person who is receiving the benefits, services, etc., of a social welfare agency, a government bureau, etc.
3. a customer.

 A Patient is defined as:

1. a person who is under medical care or treatment.
2. a person or thing that undergoes some action.
3. Archaic. a sufferer or victim.

Now, I see that we don’t necessarily want our patients to suffer or feel like victims, but the truth is that some things that happen during medical treatment hurt.  When we start calling patients clients this brings forth the images of chocolates on the pillow, not enemas.

When someone is sick and we need to get them better, sometimes it is necessary to do things to them that are uncomfortable, that aren’t fun and that might not make them happy.  But if they get to get better and go home then those things were worth it.  In the moment they might not feel that way, but I’m pretty sure most everyone is happy to leave the hospital.

My fear is that patients are going to start thinking that they should have no pain whatsoever, and nothing uncomfortable should be done, and they should order exactly what they want for breakfast and why not have a smoke in the room.  We are not here to coddle you, we are here to get you better and get you home.  Too many patients feel like they don’t have a stake in their own recovery, like they shouldn’t have to do any work, and by calling them a client you reinforce that idea.

I also like the restaurant/menu analogy.  If you are at a restaurant you can only order what is on the menu, you can’t go in and hope that they’ll get you something different.  If you are sick and come to the hospital, but you don’t want to be treated, then why did you even show up?

I do firmly believe in a patients right to informed consent and to truly understand what is going on with them, what drugs are being prescribed and why, and what procedures are being done and what they hope to learn.  But I don’t think that same patient should be coddled and hand held, the entire time.  Patients need to have responsibility for their own recovery.


Published in: on October 29, 2008 at 8:27 pm  Leave a Comment