He was so nice when he first came in, but it must have been the lack of oxygen from his blood loss that changed him. Now that he’s resuscitated, he’s not the nicest guy. In fact, he’s flat out rude. To me. To my team. To his therapists. To everyone. And at times, he even makes sexually inappropriate remarks. It got me thinking, again, why do we put up with this?
First of all, why do healthcare providers have to put up with being sexually harassed by patients? In any other situation, I could quit, sue, etc. This is a story for an entirely different post.
Why do doctors put up with patients that show us zero respect or appreciation? If I were an attorney, I’d tell him to go hire someone else. If I were in other profession, I’d simply fire him as a customer. But that’s not easy to do in medicine. Instead, I see a dozen or more patients every day. I can usually count on one hand how often I hear a thank you from a patient or their family each day. Yep, that means I only hear “thank you” maybe 50% of the time if I am really, really lucky. Usually, it occurs even less often. In fact, it is so rare, that it is extremely noticeable when someone voiced appreciation or even gives a simple “thank you” on our way out the door. It’s no wonder that doctors are burned out. We give up time with family and friends for a relatively thankless job these days.
But I also had two very thankful families. One gave me a hug in clinic–and all I did was repair an umbilical hernia (and answer about 1 million questions before and after). Then another patient’s family member hugged me again that evening after operating on her husband. These are the first two hugs I’ve received from patients and families (while in the hospital) since I returned from maternity leave. Mind you, I also got a hug from multiple patients and their family members at our trauma survivors day a month ago.
But noting these experiences, I am forced to wonder what happened to common manners and appreciation for the medical profession. Doctors were once highly respected by society. Their servitude was rewarded with gratitude. Their expertise went unquestioned. I understand how this last statement could have hurt many people, but replacing an MD/DO’s educated advice with that of Google is equally dangerous. But even beyond medicine, do people not go as far to thank people for their service? Do you not thank the cashier at the drive thru, or your barista for that custom drink, or the lady that found you that perfect shirt in your size, or the man that helped you change a tire, or the person that held the door for you? Where are our manners? Is chivalry continuing to die a slow and painful death? If so, why? Is our emotionally disconnected, social-media connected society oblivious to kindness? Do we all continue to expect more of others but expect less of ourselves in return?
It’s all just thoughts and questions, and I certainly don’t have the solution, only observations. But I will leave with you a challenge to hold the door for people tomorrow, and thank those that it hold for you. And the next time you check in with your doctor, let them know you appreciate their time and efforts. Thank you goes a long way.