I’ve worked with every kind of physician. Some are just okay, some are iffy, but the majority are really wonderful. But some of the most important things I’ve ever learned about taking care of someone, I learned from the absolute worst doctor I ever worked with at the very beginning of my career as a nurse.
Smile – That’s right, it’s that easy. Just smile. I would see this particular doctor smile even when they were lying through their teeth. It didn’t matter that what they were saying was total bullshit, because they said it with a smile, people totally believed every word out of their mouth. Although that level of b.s. is not falling out of my mouth, I’ve learned to smile even when I’m telling someone something they don’t really want to hear, and it works every time. My patients and their family never get upset with me when I tell them something they totally don’t want to hear: you can’t wait in the hallway while she gets her epidural. You shouldn’t smoke around your pregnant wife. Stop doing drugs or your baby may come out messed up. Watch how much weight you’re gaining, I don’t want you to end up diabetic or with a big, fat baby 🙂
Take the time to sit down – Let’s be honest, we don’t really have time to sit down and shoot the sh** with every single one of our patients. But just do it, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Literally, pull up a chair and just sit down, eye-level, and just talk. Talk about whatever…your kids, their kids, the weather, or work. It doesn’t matter. Just sit down and spend a few minutes literally at their level, just talking. Do it when your feet hurt and you could really use a break. You can kill two birds with one stone!
Understand the power of touch – Sometimes I would walk into a room and see this physician just holding the patient’s hand. Inside, I’d kind of inwardly cringe, but this too, taught me a lesson. Touch is so important. A gentle pat, a little rub, or just simply holding the patient’s hand provides so much reassurance and comfort.
Address their pain – Literally say these words to your patient: Controlling your pain is so important to me. And then really try to address their pain! It doesn’t even matter if you can actually make their pain go away, it’s the fact that you’re trying. They notice that! Laboring a woman who wants absolutely no medication is going to have some pain. We all know there’s no way they’re going to have a pain score of zero. But just keep trying. Give them medicine if they want medicine, give them extra pillows, lower the lights, tell someone in the room to massage them if you’re too busy to do it yourself, and for the love of God, keep the Motrin coming if they’re postpartum…they just had a baby!
Make yourself available – I have literally told every single patient I’ve ever had to call me at the hospital if they need me. And do you know how many have called? Maybe one. Maybe. But people are comforted just knowing that they could call you if they really needed to. And even though this one may make you raise your eyebrows, in reality, if your patient had a serious question or concern, you would want them to reach out for help.
Until my next delivery ❤