Patient satisfaction has had a bad rap. It’s been called the Dirty Secret that is Destroying Nursing. This may be an unpopular opinion, but as a labor and delivery nurse, I’ve never been short of an opinion 🙂 The truth is, I like patient satisfaction. I kind of think it’s secretly saving the nursing profession. And let me make one thing clear—I don’t believe that patient satisfaction should trump employee satisfaction. I believe what Richard Branson once said… The way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers. The truth is, many hospitals could treat their employees better, and many healthcare providers could treat their patients better.
When we focus on patient satisfaction, we are forced to do so many things that epitomize nursing. We collect data, we measure outcomes, we innovate and implement. We bring the attention back to the patient’s perception of the care being rendered. If pain scores are one measurement of patient satisfaction, is it really destroying nursing focusing on addressing our patient’s pain? I want my patient’s pain to be controlled. If I were the one in the hospital, I would want my pain to be controlled, or I’d at least like to think they were trying. I don’t want to be woken up thirty times during the night if tasks could be clustered, and if sleep is going to help me get better then why shouldn’t tasks be combined to minimize interruptions, allowing me to get better sleep?
A long time ago, a CEO at Houston Methodist told our nursing class “good care is part quality, part perception.” I didn’t understand what he meant at the time. It wasn’t until my first day on a labor and delivery unit that I fully understood when he was trying to teach us. There my patient was, screaming in pain from an unmedicated labor. I watched as my preceptor placed a pillow behind her back and reassured her that her contraction was going away (she didn’t mention that it would come back). As the patient’s baby was delivered and placed against her, she looked up at my preceptor and voiced how grateful she was for everything she had done. I remember thinking…she just gave you a pillow and basically told you to relax. But the patient had perceived it completely differently, and she really believed that my preceptor’s small actions had helped her survive her labor 🙂
As nurses, we should give every single patient the treatment we would want to be given, the treatment we would want our family to be given. As patients, we should demand this. I want our patients to know their worth. I want them to insist on the very best care. How much money they have, how old they are, how educated they may be, or the decisions they made to find themselves in front of us shouldn’t alter the care we provide. Maybe by bringing everything back to the patient, we’ll secretly save the nursing (and physician!) profession 🙂
Patient satisfaction isn’t destroying nursing. Maybe employee unsatisfaction is. Maybe while we figure out ways to increase our patient’s satisfaction, employers can figure out ways to increase ours. Until then, I will remain grateful to have a job in a profession that I’m so passionate about. I’ll graciously serve the patients in my care. I will continue to go to work every day and remember that nursing is a calling. And I will think of patient satisfaction as a reminder of what my calling is really about: the patient.
Until my next delivery ❤