Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Faith in American patients

Today may have restored my faith in American patients. Way back when, I posted about how much better African patients were than American patients. Today was my first day of internship and I was prepared. I was prepared for the gripes from the patients: "My cable TV isn't working!" "I asked for mashed potatoes for dinner, not broccoli!" "I refuse to take that medicine!" "I demand a private room!" And of course, I was not expecting any gratitude or help with the patient care from the families. I was not even expecting the patients or their families to know anything about their own illnesses. I expected a lot of drug addicts, HIV patients, gun-shot wound patients, people with no family support, rudeness, impatience, an air of presumption and expecting things they should expect.

I was surprised. Three of my patients or their families expressed extreme gratitude for my help. Some of them were pretty demanding, but in the end they were grateful for all that I did. A fourth patient started out pretty surly and unfriendly. To be fair, he's been in the hospital for close to 3 weeks, and he's not that much better yet. But after talking to him and joking around with him for a few minutes, he warmed up, and even thanked me at the end for talking to him.

I think in the end, you get what you put into the patients. They may be very demanding (especially compared to Botswana patients), but if you really care and try to help out, they'll see that in you and be appreciative. If you don't care about them, of course they're going to realize that and see that in you. Maybe American patients aren't so bad after all. Or maybe it's my first day and I'm still being naive. :)

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