On a recent Tuesday, my day started out fairly unremarkably – early trip to the gym for a cross training session, the usual breakfasting and e-mail checking as I got ready for work.
I had a quick doctor’s appointment that morning, so I left my apartment a little later than usual.
My mind was consumed with thoughts about the upcoming workday, my first test in Proteins, Fats and Carbs and my stupid Achilles injury during the walk to the subway, which actually came as soon as I got underground.
Once inside the car, it was obvious that something was going on – people were looking nervous and trying not to stare at this woman, who was shaking and crying and obviously not ok. Two kind bystanders were trying to help her eat a few pieces of candy, because as it turned out, she was a diabetic suffering from an episode of hypoglycemia (or very low blood sugar).
Can you imagine being alone on a subway (or anywhere) and experiencing a serious medical event?
I can. I also know what to do in an episode of hypoglycemia, so I helped the woman calm down, finish her candy and check her blood sugar with a self monitoring device. After a few minutes she was fine, and an amazing (seriously, this guy was so nice) stranger got off at her stop and helped her get to where she needed to go.
This event, which lasted probably about 10 minutes, stayed in my thoughts as I carried on to my doctor’s appointment and then to work, and even as I went home to study that night.
Even though this women obviously needed medical intervention (or really, just sugar), I kept thinking about how sometimes dealing with people’s emotions is half the battle in a lot of healthcare situations. After her blood sugar was at a safe level and she was physically fine, the woman’s anxiety was through the roof – she needed to be calmed down and told repeatedly that she was ok, that the worst was over.
Mentally and emotionally helping and connecting with my future patients is something I really want to focus on as a dietitian. I never want to forget that they are people too – someone’s mother, husband, best friend, daughter or great-grandmother – not just hospital beds or names that need to be checked off on long lists.
Just based on my extensive experience as “the patient”, I think this aspect of healthcare is not emphasized nearly enough, and it can go such a long way.
So as I prepare for my dietetic internship interview today (ahh, so nervous!), I’m keeping these goals and priorities as a dietitian top of mind, not to mention my excitement for the opportunity to further explore my passion. Wish me luck!
Question: What are your opinions on what makes a great doctor/dietitian/nurse/medical professional?