Healthcare professionals are among some of the most undervalued and even unacknowledged heroes of our generation. Be it nurses, physiotherapists, radiographers or even social workers, we only go to them with problems, they do their best to help us and… we move along to get on with our lives, on many occasions not even remembering their faces. A fact I have always been aware of, but never particularly thought of in detail. And I should know, coming from a family of doctors: my father and both my sisters. Not to even mention how accustomed I’ve had to become to hospitals in the last few years
And for anyone with thoughts like: “well that’s their job” or “they chose that life”, this may all be true, but, reality check!: WE pay athletes, actors and musicians obscene amounts of money for our entertainment and then pay a pittance to those supposed to keep us alive and healthy; WE spend thousands, even millions, on the most materialistic, irrelevant possessions we can and still see “free healthcare” as an ideal to strive for/maintain. Chew on that for a minute.
Last week I gave a talk to a class of graduating nurses on Clinical Decision Making as relating to my personal experience and perspective. This is part of a programme run by my alma mater, Teesside University, in which service users are invited to interact with healthcare students in a variety of academic settings. I have been attached to the programme on a part-time basis for two years now and have come across an enormous number of aspiring and current healthcare students. Most of these tend to be in their first or second years of study and as such still need to learn quite a bit and it is a beautiful thing to be a part of as they are always keen and enthusiastic. However, the class I held last week was of final year students, ready to step into the real world where they would ply their trade in service to you and me. This was to be, in fact, their last ever class in university. And it was quite obvious they were ready to take the step from students to professionals. What blew my mind though was the level they had reached as prospective nurses. Not only were they academically sound in their field, they showed genuine passion for nursing and drew quite effectively from their experiences in real world scenarios gained via placements. Their questions were technical, insightful and very well presented. All the while, they seemed quite unaware of how ready they came across. I was in awe and would be completely at ease should my health be in any of their hands in the near future.
This experience forced me to recall my times in hospital following the accident. The comparison between these student nurses and the vast majority of qualified nurses I’ve encountered is heart-warming. The staff at the ICU and spinal unit proved to be some of the most crucial factors in my recovery and rehabilitation: physiotherapists and occupational therapists are now life-long friends; nurses will forever have my unwavering respect for their strength and resilience; healthcare assistants still play a vital role in my life; doctors remind me every day why my father’s death stung so many hearts… and this is just a shortlist of the values of SOME of our heroes in hospitals. My interaction with the graduating nurses, and indeed other healthcare students, only serve to reiterate the notion that our health workers do not get near enough credit as they deserve.
So why is this so? Why do we take our nurses, physios, radiographers healthcare assistants, therapists, social workers etc. for granted? Have we gotten too accustomed by the approach of servitude from the modern health workers? Are we so fearful of ill-health that we unknowingly vilify and distance ourselves from anything remotely associated with ill-health, including those there to help us? Are we so willing to neglect our hospitals until we need them?
Whatever the case, those who tend to our wounds, treat our illnesses and help deliver our children deserve much more than we give them. So next time you are seen to by hospital staff, be it a nurse or any other health care professional, get their name, ask about their day where possible, show clear gratitude. It may not be a pay rise, but it goes a long way to making them feel appreciated and may even remind them of what they truly are, everyday heroes.
This post is dedicated to all medical and healthcare workers who save and improve lives on a daily basis. A special shout out to the amazing staff of the James Cook University Hospital, especially those in the Intensive Care Unit and the Golden Jubilee Spinal Injuries Centre. You saved my life, I am forever in your debt
4 thoughts on “Not All Heroes Wear Capes”
I’ve just spent a bit of time reading through some of your posts and they are all brilliant…i agree with so many of the points you are making! You have one new keen follower here 😀 Thankyou so much for all the support with my wheelchair challenge last week. I had one person slate what I was doing saying it was rude to wheelchair users but I don’t think he really understood what I was aiming to do until I had a chat to him.
Anyway, in regards to this post.. I agree that when I mention what I am training to be to many of my friends not in a healthcare field they think physios are the people you go to if you break a bone. They are genuinely surprised that I may have a placement in ITU or a cardiac ward and are suddenly far more interested when I say I want a career in a neurological setting. Really interesting! I think for me I just like to see I am making a small difference to someones life and that’s the main thing, and I think that goes for a lot of my cohort. I’d like to think thats a trait in most healthcare professionals…quietly modest and happy to be making a difference even if its not entirely recognised. Sorry for the babble haha, just thought I’d give my opinion 🙂
Not babble, not even in the slightest.
As for the #wheelchairchallenge, brilliant job. I wish I’d come up with the idea myself, and I wasn’t kidding when I said more people should try it. You’ll be an awesome physio.
P.S. Glad you like my blog. 🙂
I absolutely love this post!! And not just because I am a physician-in-training lol. I have long thought that doctors and scientists should be the real rock stars of society. I agree that our society overvalues athletes, actors and musicians.
I think that many people out there have a negative impression of physicians, nurses and other health-care professionals because they may have had a negative experience. This could be a long waiting time at an appointment or at a hospital, an interaction with a caregiver which left the person feeling like they didn’t really care, or even a missed or misdiagnosis – I think a lack of understanding of medicine can also contribute. For example, one complaint I often hear is that doctors do not give antibiotics to patients who have flu or cold-like symptoms. Of course, it is important to explain the reasoning behind this and that is the responsibility of the physician or nurse.
I was taught early on in my MD program that the number one reason for patient complaints against a doctor is a lack of communication. That is to say, most complaints would not be filed with the College of Physicians and Surgeons at all if there was better communication on the part of the doctor.
Anyhow, I enjoy reading your posts! And it is fantastic that you have found a special role for the learning of health-care professionals. I know that I remember some of the patient lecture better than most… and probably always will. Thank you for your contribution!
Firstly, thanks for the support. It’s awesome to get a response like this, especially from someone in health care.
I definitely agree that a lot of negative experiences, impressions and complaints can be easily avoided. But even so, medical professionals still don’t get anywhere near the recognition they deserve. Hopefully we can all play a part in changing that, even if only a little.
Thanks again for reading. And I genuinely wish you all the best in your medical career.