Trust me, I’m a nurse!

You roll through the doors of the emergency room. The paramedics are rattling off your vital signs and situation. Oh, the pain in your chest….crushing, burning, heavy. You overhear your blood pressure is 210/102. Fearful thoughts race through your head. What is going to happen? Am I going to die right here and now? Why now? Why me? It’s so hard to concentrate with the pain. Then, the nurse bombards you with questions about your past medical history and current medications. Through the excitement and pain, you manage to answer the questions as best you can. After this, you’re given an IV, a sublingual nitro, and some morphine. Ahh the pain is slightly relieved. After this, doctors and nurses dictate instructions on the “plan.” You agree; they’re the experts right?

Thousands of people experience a situation like this every year. An acute illness creeps up on them as fast as McDonald’s makes a BigMac. It catches them off guard, and then are forced to trust their medical providers. Am I saying they should not trust them? Well, not exactly. I just find it amazing that people do trust medical providers so much. Perhaps it is a forced trust.

So, you go to the McDonald’s drive-thru. How many times have you glanced in the bag to make sure it’s the right order? You don’t trust the guy making your lousy burger. But people trust the nurses giving them medications and the doctors prescribing therapies, which could potentially severely hurt your well-being and life if they f@$% up. It’s astonishing that people trust healthcare providers as much as they do. Like I said, it probably is a forced trust because there is no other option. I’ve tried to think of other situations where we trust blindly trust. Most of these scenarios are ridiculous, but I’ll list a few.

  • You trust your skydiving instructor to pull the cord…..NOW!
  • As a U.S. Marine, you trust the guy next to you in the trenches. Semper Fi. Do or die.
  • You trust your parents that babies come from the stork.
  • You board an airplane and trust the pilots aren’t on the internet and won’t bypass your stop. Oh wait…

Ok, most of these scenarios are ridiculous, and I’ve thought of extreme examples. But I’m just illustrating that in certain situations we trust people we have never met before because we have to; there is no other option. In healthcare, I hope all nurses and doctors genuinely strive to “prove” themselves to their patients. Assure your patient you know what you’re talking about, and explain it to him in a way in which he can understand. Also, actions do speak louder than words. Your mother was correct! It’s idealistic, yes. But what’s the point of saying we have ideals if we don’t strive for them? Try not to think of patients as numbers on a list or as another day at work.  They’ve earned their spot in the hospital due to illness; now in return, earn their trust. Don’t make it a blind trust. It could end tragically, almost like getting a chicken sandwich instead of your BigMac.

**Disclaimer** It is exceptionally hard to earn the trust of combative patients. I won’t judge if you “strive” less zealously =P

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