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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Experienced from both sides of the bed

The November 2011 Issue of Readers Digest reads in big, bold print  “50 Secrets Nurses Won’t Tell You”

Articles like this create fear and mistrust in the patient community.

The front of the article states “Doctors are clueless about what really happens in the beds, rooms and halls of our hospital” Really? In my experience physicians are very well aware of what is happening in the bed. I had just had a major vascular surgery in 2009, when I developed chest pain in the ICU.  Who was there at the side of my bed reading my EKG and ordering the Nitro Drip? The ICU nurse? No the Intensivist.  My nurse was amazing. She monitored my pain, adjusted the drip while monitoring my vital signs. It was a team effort.

The next time I am admitted to the hospital should I be suspicious of my vascular surgeon who held my hand and informed me how my surgery went? He drew pictures so I understood and patiently listened to me while I asked questions about my prognosis. What about the fact that the surgeon listened to my suggestions on what I thought could make my recovery successful. Together as a team we made decisions about my discharge. My surgery and all that accompanied it was a positive experience because participatory medicine was taking place.

The Readers Digest states that they “...went to the experts.” Now don’t get me wrong, I have been a Registered Nurse for almost 2 decades, and many nurses are exceptionally intelligent, and dedicated. But I disagree with the light Readers Digest put nurses in. We are part of the team, there are no experts. The doctor nurse relationship is not “them against us” like this article makes it out to be. I am member of The Society of Participatory Medicine who’s mission is to bring together e-patients and health care professionals. We can do better both as health care providers and patients, telling “secrets” is not the answer.

Personally I found a few of the "secrets" offensive and not true of the nursing profession. The article “50 Secrets Nurses Won’t Tell You” is a small representation of nurses, many who are professional and work with values and a code of ethics.
Whatever it takes to sell a magazine right?

I could go delve deeper into this article but I suggest you read the article judge for yourself, let me know your thoughts.

Kari Ulrich,  FMD e-patient, RN
Experienced from both sides of the bed

Getting ready for Surgery


  1. Kari, like you I found things in the article questionable. I've always had a respect for nurses, as a part of the healthcare team. I expect the same respect for what I do in the world of healthcare documentation. What bothered me about the article was the thought that somehow it seemed to say you should trust your nurse over your doctor. In reality, no one in the healthcare industry is perfect. That's why we need a team, one that includes all of those healthcare professionals, AND the patient.

  2. I completely agree about the paranoia that could result from the article's comments regarding doctors; however, there are a lot of statements that I've found true in my experience as a patient—the number one thing being: be nice to your nurses. Working with your nurses to improve your care goes a long way. Being polite and thankful rather than treating nurses like servants goes a long way. Nurses can do so much to improve a patient's comfort that a doctor just isn't around to do. I try very hard to be a "good" patient who isn't annoying or takes up too much time or is rude. The perk is that when I really need something, my nurses generally are more inclined to go the extra mile.

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