We have launched our way into a new year and with it comes many opportunities to make different decisions, new choices, expand our vision and, perhaps, resolve to make changes that will enhance our personal lives and create a new approach to our patients. Suggestions come from many sources but a quote I appreciate seems to fit the challenge, “Visualize this thing that you want. See it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blueprint and begin.” When it comes to changes of this magnitude, a suggestion from Mother Theresa is “the first step to becoming, is to will it.” Are you ready to take this new journey, to stop, to hesitate long enough to discern if this would fit your practice lifestyle, amidst the ever-changing landscape of our professional lives?
I received a quote by email this week that said, “You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.” Neither are we too experienced or too educated to learn to think differently about our commitment to becoming the most superior healthcare providers. In this changing landscape fraught with so many difficulties from burnout to being overwhelmed, unappreciated, poorly utilized, chained to compulsory guidelines from employers to insurance agencies, and burdened with the belief that clinical practice has nothing else to share. American healthcare seems to be in a state of transition and we need to embrace it more willingly, happily, and with more hope. I guess we are in a “hope” famine as we practice in the bogginess of medicine today.
I was speaking with a nurse with whom I volunteer with in a homeless men’s shelter. She has an amazing outlook on this reality. Her life is busy: she is married to a cardiologist and has very young children at home. She is filled with overwhelming love for the underprivileged men that enter into that shelter. She sent me a favorite quote and it struck with its clarity and profound simplicity. “A person remembers how you make them feel,” Maya Angelou. Here is my approach to making patients feel touched by your empathy and your skill as a healer.
Negativity is a choice and we often choose to see the negative instead of thinking on what could be. We tend to be a bit resentful, with good reason, as to how we are received as healthcare providers by people who have never sat in an ER to observe our response to a trauma or cardiac arrest where we are the main providers. They have not experienced the surge of adrenaline that we have as we utilize our education and experience to re-start a failing heart, to stop the bleeding, assess the patient, order diagnostic studies, treat them for shock, replace their fluid losses, revive them with medications, place a endotracheal tube perfectly to give life support, and to continue until we have successfully stabilized our patient and can see them leave our facility days or weeks later. That is our reward, seeing our patients get well and saving lives; we are resentful when the bean counters fail to recognize that we deal with these situations on an emotional level as well.
We have resentment that administrators feel that they can place us on the front lines of epidemics and tripledemics without adequate rest or sleep, or sufficient patient beds, equipment or staff. How dare they? That is exactly why there is a nursing strike in NYC that will be reduplicated in many large cities across America. The attitude goes beyond “We are mad as hell and are not going to take it anymore.” We are not going to let the public think, even for a moment, that we do not care. These strikes are happening because we do care and we do not want patients to risk coming to our facility if we cannot treat them properly and speedily.
Considering the challenges we have, the decisions we make, and the fact that, in numerous states, we can be charged with criminal negligence if a hoped-for result is not forthcoming, we need change. We need to feel secure that our attempts at saving lives are not being met with the security that our institutions have the best malpractice policies and are unwilling to reimburse us for a personal liability insurance policyProfessional Liability Insurance. This is not about a grievance with our salaries which need to be changed upwardly, but with our personal sense of security for both us and our families.
We as NPs and PAs, as well as our nursing and technical counterparts, desire to be optimistic about what can be in the future. We want to see more staff hired and to have the proper protective equipment, medications and supplies to care properly for our patients. We want to cultivate empathy and compassion for our patients and five more minutes for an office visit can remedy this situation. We are willing to forgive the institutional medicine that has found itself caught between regulation, finances and a Board of Directors. The hospital closures that are now rampant across the United States are due to these factors just as they are to the proliferation of virus activity. American health institutions need to trade places with the professional healthcare providers. Trading places, if even for a moment, might destroy the apathy that has evolved and replace it with empathy: it’s just that simple. Will healthcare change for the better? We can hope, dream, unite and create change by our actions.
Written For CM&F By: Robert M. Blumm, PA, DFAAPA, PA-C Emeritus
CM&F Clinical Advisor