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person with paper bag over her head on mottled blue background. statement: Look at me. I'm a person.

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For the month of November, I am going to be involved in a major writing project called NaNoWriMo with some other writing friends. This will be a first time event for me. It is going to take all my writing bandwidth to complete this project that I hope will result in a historical fiction book by the end of it.

No joke. it is a huge challenge! So for the month of November, I’ll be sharing some of my older posts with you. Since I will be sharing old posts, I will share 2 a week. Feel free to browse the blog and look at other series at your leisure as well. Most of this article was written in August 31, 2010.

I am tired of being treated like a number. I am a person. So I’m serving notice now, on all medical personnel particularly.  Watch out!  I’m developing the chip on my shoulder that I never wanted to have.

Yes, I’m one of you, a nurse.  Maybe that is why it bothers me so much.  Yes, I worked in a doctor’s office nearly ten years…during very changing times in medical care I might add.  We were taught about customer service (realizing that people had a choice when it came to their medical care).

I understand about the pressures from your side of the desk. The pressure is always on to work faster and produce more.  The phone NEVER stops ringing…EVER.  The rudeness on the other end of the line is not uncommon and can be irritating. It is often undeserved. The patients aren’t mad at you as much as they are mad at the system or their disease process…or they just feel miserable.

Still, it doesn’t represent every patient.  It represents a few.  I’m sorry people are being rude to you but please don’t take it out on the rest of us.  “A soft answer turns away wrath.” is not a hard and fast rule, but an observation that is often true.  It is not an easy choice to make, but the rewards are great!

And have you forgotten that we are patients?

We actually have some type of disease process going on.  We are not in your office because we came by for a chat!

We may be in the process of recovery, we may have dressed so that we look pretty good on the outside, but we are rarely at 100%. Sometimes we are downright ill.  Please take that into consideration when you speak with us.  Beside that, you have no idea what else is going on in our lives as well.  I get that you also have your own problems.  But this is your job. In a real sense, you are being paid at least to be professional to us. We hope for some kindness. The difference between you and me is that you are getting paid to do this job. I am the patient. I am also unique from other patients.

You are supposed to care for me.  You are also in a service role.

This is not a put-down, it is a statement of fact.  You don’t have to be syrupy sweet.  But polite would help, maybe even friendly.

Bear in mind that without the patients in your office, there is no income and your job dries up really fast!  If you look at satisfied patients in the office as job security for yourself instead of as a nuisance, it will change your view of their simple requests or questions that really only take a minute or two of your time to satisfy.

It might also affect the ways you ask patients for information. (Making a clear request vs. assuming they know what you need/want.) By the way, they are not being unreasonable to ask “Why?”.

I don’t know if I get upset being treated this way because it is dehumanizing or because I know how you are supposed to treat me.  I think that the dehumanized treatment gets to me at a level I don’t always realize until it is too late. I’m sometimes at the doctor’s office for myself, but most often, I’m there for my husband who has dementia due to strokes. He is not in as bad shape as he could be, but his memory is not good. If I am not with him, he won’t remember what the doctor tells him. There is an emotional element to his diagnosis as there often is to many of our loved ones’ diagnoses. That is another reason we don’t come into the office at 100%

Generally, treating people with honor and respect results in respectful treatment back.

For sure, getting into power struggles with patients does no one any good…EVER! It also gobbles up time.  That is no help for some one who is already overworked!

I must hasten to add that for those of you who are kind in the way you treat us, you are like a drink of cold water in a desert. Don’t underestimate how comforting your politeness, kind words, and willingness to be helpful minister to people who are unfamiliar with the processes of your particular office. Or even how we may miss some of your words as we are in varying stages of hearing loss. Be patient with us. Even that is a kindness. Thank you.


***This blog brought to you by a frustrated patient who has been to more doctor’s offices than she has wanted to lately.  Some are well run, with pleasant, cheerful and professional staff who are a pleasure to deal with.  A few, including one I’ve had to deal with in the last few days, are abysmally difficult and make each simple request into a major mountain to climb!  In this one, the doctor is fine, the staff impossible!  If I had any other option, I would take it.

***I was encouraged to see, on my last visit to this doctor, that he has a new person in this job.  She is happy to be there.  She likes people…and it comes through.  It was delightful!  Yes, I did make a complaint after my last visit to him once I realized this behavior was a pattern. I don’t do it often, but I did that day. She lied to me about an office policy as well as an attitude I had with her more than once. I spoke with him about the facts of the situation and didn’t get emotional. 12/2011