A difficult patient

I had a difficult patient today who was a Scientologist. He openly talked about his distrust of medicine and hospitals, so I tried to spend as much time with him as possible to listen to his concerns and reassure him of our role. He had lots of questions, which I tried to answer as the medical team were very busy and not on hand. At the end of the shift he said he was very grateful I took the time to listen to him.

To me it seemed that he was quite lonely and fearful of the hospital. I hoped that the nurses I handed over to would have time to be with him too, as he seemed to settle once we had one of our long chats. Another of my patients today kept calling me ‘sister’. I know it’s quite an old-fashioned thing to call a nurse, but it actually felt very familial and caring.

A doctor positively affirmed the way I had worked and acknowledged my role within the team. I feel a bit lame being so grateful for the doctor’s respect, but I think it really helps the cohesion of the team to hear it. It wouldn’t be great for my self-esteem to be working in an environment where the nurses celebrated with each other, but the doctors undermined us. I actually really appreciated that at the end of the shift this particular doctor went to each of the nurses to clarify the care plans in place and ensure he hadn’t missed anything from our requests that day. I thought this is a professional way to practice; it really respects the time and energy that the nurses give to providing the best care.

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