11 Things Healthcare Professionals Wish Everyone Knew

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Guest blogger and healthcare professional Elizabeth Enochs shares what she wishes everyone would understand about what it’s like to work in the healthcare industry. We hope you find this article relatable and encourage you to share your thoughts in the comments below. 

As an English major and an avid writer I never expected to — or remotely wanted to — work in healthcare. But in May 2014 after being laid off from a part-time waitressing gig on my 24th birthday (depressing, right?), I decided to get over my aversion to the industry and apply for an open administrative assistant job at a dialysis facility in my town.

I knew it would be a good, resume-building job with a steady paycheck and great hours. Plus, I was tired of having anxiety attacks every time I had to pay my bills and buy groceries in the same week. So I applied, interviewed, and got the job. I felt extremely lucky when I got the call confirming my employment, but I also felt so nervous and intimidated about becoming a part of this world that was so foreign to me that I couldn’t sleep or eat right for weeks. I’d mainly worked in retail before this, and now I was working with people who’d been diagnosed with end-stage renal disease. In retail, the biggest problem I’d faced was an angry customer yelling at me for not returning their clothes without a receipt. Now I was trying to help people whose kidneys didn’t work.

It took a lot of getting used to, but nearly a year later I’ve realized that although I don’t intend to be in healthcare forever, it’s truly one of the most rewarding, character-building jobs out there. I love how working in healthcare has forced me to become more confident, assertive, and overall just less of a wuss. And I love how I’ve been able to get to know and truly help the patients I work with. But healthcare is really stressful. Actually, I don’t think “stressful” is a powerful enough word for the job. Healthcare is downright chaos. And it’s made so much more difficult when people don’t appreciate just how chaotic working in this high-stress, fast-paced, and totally crucial industry is. I haven’t even been in the business for that long, but I can already tell you these 11 things healthcare professionals wish you knew.

1. We are consistently overworked, so bear with us.

There are no slow days in healthcare. Where I work, we see over 65 patients and are responsible for making each of their lives better. Personally, I don’t have the weight of direct patient care on my shoulders, but I still have to ensure that all of our patients have adequate transportation to and from their treatments. I set up their doctor’s appointments and I make sure their records are dealt with properly. Plus, I do a bunch of other stuff that I won’t bore you with. My point is, I am never not busy. So the next time you go to a doctor’s appointment, be polite to the receptionist. You may think we just sit on our butts and answer calls all day, but you have no idea how hard we work. We will smile and speak softly because it’s part of the job, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t stressed to our limit every single day. Same goes for the nurses. They may act tough, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be polite to them. They carry the heavy burden of your health on their shoulders all day, every day.

2. Don’t mistake directness for rudeness.

Sometimes healthcare professionals are stereotyped as negative or rude, and I get that. When I first started working in healthcare I thought, “Woah, nurses are mean!” But what you need to understand is nurses and support staff alike have to be direct. We are responsible for helping a lot of people and we only have so much time to do it. If we weren’t tough-as-nails it would simply not be possible for us to help as many people as we do.

3. We have little or no control over wait times.

I can’t count how many times a patient or a family member of a patient has gotten hateful with me over wait times. I know it stinks to show up on time, or even early, for an appointment and then have to sit and wait forever to be seen. But we really have very little control over your wait. Sometimes we have zero control. But I promise you when we say we are trying to get you seen as fast as possible, we aren’t lying. There’s only so much we can control, and like I said before, we are responsible for a lot of people’s health. We can’t kick them out of their appointment before it’s over just so you don’t have to wait as long to be seen.

4. We hate caring more about your health than you do.

I’m sure this applies more to healthcare professionals who do direct patient care (i.e., nurses and doctors) but it applies to us support staff too. I hate setting a patient up for a doctor’s appointment that we both know they desperately need just to discover they skipped it. We genuinely care about your wellness so when we work our butts off to try to help you and then you don’t even listen to us, it really pushes our buttons. Don’t make us be more invested in your quality of life than you are.

5. We know when you’re lying, so just don’t do it.

Blood work doesn’t lie. Don’t tell us you’re taking the doctor’s orders seriously when you’re clearly not. We don’t lie to you, so don’t lie to us. It makes it so much harder to help you when you’re not honest with us, and we’re just going to find out anyway.

6. Your insurance provider does not affect the quality of your care.

We do not care if you have no insurance, commercial insurance, Group Health Plan, Veterans benefits, or if your only provider is Medicaid or Medicare. We aren’t going to give you lesser quality of care based on your insurance or lack of insurance. Don’t accuse us of being money hungry or showing favoritism based on your insurance provider. We don’t see that money, and trust me, every single one of us is underpaid considering the workloads and stress levels we deal with on a daily basis.

7. We hate paperwork, too, but it is absolutely essential.

Some days I do so much paperwork I think I’m on the verge of going snow blind, but we absolutely have to have it. Without the proper paperwork we cannot treat you, bill your insurance, or get any of the past medical information we may need in order to figure out how to help you. We hate it as much as you do, but we will never stop needing you to read and sign things. We can’t do our jobs without it, so please don’t make it any more painful than it has to be by complaining about it.

8. Everything we do goes through tons of channels, so please be patient.

Almost nothing we do is taken care of with one phone call. Even if we’re on the ball, there is a chain of command that has to be followed, and we can’t control how quickly the next person in that chain will respond. Healthcare is a team effort, so don’t focus all your frustration on one member of that team, and keep in mind that your health issues are important to us too or we wouldn’t be doing this job.

9. If we were super-sensitive, we could not work this job.

We never want to seem insensitive to your plight, whatever it may be, but no one works in healthcare for very long without developing a necessary toughness. Of course, the level of toughness depends on what branch of healthcare you’re in. I can’t imagine dentists or optometrists needing to develop as thick a skin as dialysis staff do. Where I work we simply can’t allow ourselves to be overly sensitive because the people we treat are usually very sick. In less than a year I’ve had to say goodbye to many patients that I’d grown very fond of. People die. It’s sad, but we can’t let ourselves be too sad about it for too long — because it will happen again and again, and we have to be emotionally prepared for that inevitability.

10. Don’t expect support staff to know the answers to nursing questions and vice-versa.

Don’t ask an administrative assistant for information on treating your diabetes or high blood pressure, or really any medical condition. My degree is in English. I have to know some information about medicine, but I am not a nurse or a physician. Now, if you need transportation set up or an appointment made, or medical records requested or a treatment set up out of town, I’d be happy to help you out. But all I can tell you when you ask for information on your medical conditions is this: go see your primary care physician. The same goes for nurses and doctors. Don’t ask them about the stuff I take care of, they will not know what to tell you.

11. We aren’t just in this for the money or job security.

Anyone who works in healthcare does it because they like helping people. They may have initially gone in to this industry for the pay and the job security, but they don’t stay in it for that reason. Like I said before, this is overwhelming, high-stress work. No one in healthcare is overpaid considering the massive workload and responsibility we take on every single day. So don’t ever think we’re just in this because it’s practical, steady work. There are a lot of jobs out there that are just as practical and pay just as well and aren’t even half as stressful as the work we do.

We care about making a positive difference in your life, and that is why we work in healthcare.


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Editorial Note: This article originally appeared on Thought Catalog and has been modified and republished here with the author’s approval.

Elizabeth Enochs

About Elizabeth Enochs

Elizabeth Enochs is a Brooklyn-based writer and editor from a small town in Missouri that you've probably never heard of. Before she became a feature's writer for Bustle, she paid the bills by working in an outpatient dialysis clinic with tough nurses and brave patients. Elizabeth is scared of Tinder, addicted to coffee, in love with travel, and watches way too much TV. In addition to the HealthcareSource Blog, her work has been featured on sites like HelloGiggles, Thought Catalog, HuffPost Women, Flurtmag.com and a few others.

  • Maryann McIlroy

    Well said. You have an excellent grasp of the expectations of the patient and the limitations of the staff. Very thoughtful and compassionate. Hope many patients read it. Have been a nurse for more than 40 years. Thank you.

  • Priscilla

    Thank you for this! It is so very true! Have been a nurse for 11 years. I wish everyone would read this.

  • Traci

    Speaking from the dental field…. I am a dental hygienist and I think that anyone in the dental field has to have extraordinarily thick skin, just like anyone else in the medical field. After people tell you constantly throughout the day how much they hate seeing you, it can get under your skin after a while. Also we see patients year after year and have to deal with the death and loss of people as well. I guess my point is I wouldn’t toot your horn in any medical specially, they all have their own challenges. Other then that I think the one thing the author should have added is BE ON TIME TO YOUR APPOINTMENT! There is always that one person who insists on being seen that throws the entire schedule off, ugh!

  • Kristy

    They might skip the appointment because they can’t afford to show up. Just a thought.

    • Tracy Mason Joyce

      Or because they have no idea if they’ll be there for one hour or three.

      • Manda

        Dialysis takes several hours, and is literally keeping you alive. Not showing up because you can’t be bothered to wait for 30 minutes is inexcusable.

      • weepinbell

        the ironic part about this logic is that, the more patients who show up late, the later the doctor will be running…. so if you’re showing up late for your appointment because of this reason, you’re just contributing to a domino effect that will result in even MORE patients being seen late…. so that’s selfish

    • AMom

      Or just might be the patient has been hospitalized, so rescheduled to another location, yet no one within the network of assistants, administrators, receptionist, etc, thought to let each other know this. Even when the patient advised they should. Then the patient gets nasty letters about missing appointments, while the treating doctors was seeing them in the hospital during rounds the whole time.

      • weepinbell

        this is a very rare situation. most hospitals/offices are connected via an online database, so we’re able to check whether or not a patient has been hospitalized. if not, records are very quickly transferred to the office if our doctors are directly involved with the patient’s care.

        when it comes to patient hospitalization, clinical and support staff are very very communicative. a patient would never receive a notice like this if their missed appointment were due to something beyond their control.

    • Madigan1323

      …and yet there is usually a long list of people waiting to get in that would have dropped everything to be there. There is no excuse for not calling and simply not showing up. People complain about the high cost of healthcare, and yet the cost of equipment, medical doses that are patient specific and go unused all cost money. It’s basic good manners.

    • Becki Jackson Johnson

      Medicare and medicaid cover the ambulance ride, end stage kidney disease is an automatic approval for disability. There are so many resources out there for this, there is no excuse.

  • autw

    #6 is wrong. I know of many specialists who do not accept HMO insurances. (I used to work for one)

    • Thanks for your comment. The author of this post was speaking about her personal experience working with patients at her clinic. She was expressing that as an administrative assistant, she does not provide a lesser quality of care based on a patient’s insurance status.

      • Marion

        Perhaps she was referring to whether patients are treated differently when discussing their funding source/insurance. Anyone in Healthcare has probably been accused of mistreating those with public funding, even if only because a call light wasn’t answered immediately. We don’t care who pays your bill.

    • Elisha

      The author was also speaking that, once a patient, they wouldn’t receive better treatment than the next. Not that they would except patient’s no matter what.

    • gellaoui

      That is specific to their contract, not quality of care. It’s patient responsibility to ensure a given provider is under contract with their plan, prior to appointment. I ran into this problem as both a patient, and a provider. Just because Dr. Pterodactyl takes BCBS, doesn’t mean he takes all the plans.

  • Brian

    Lol. Secretary, in a dialysis clinic, and you talk about being overeworked. I know dialysis clinics business has (probably) tripled, in the past 20 years, and you’re no doubt busy, but… let’s be honest, comparing a HUC to direct care providers, is like apples to anything but apples. When is the last time you had to work the night shift, due to inadequate staffing? What was the last holiday you worked? How many family functions have you missed, due to your job? How many of YOUR patients have died on you, over the course of your new career? While there is truth, in the things you posted, I also want you to understand, that you really don’t have it near as bad as you think you do.

    • mona

      That’s an awful thing to say (you don’t have it as bad as you think) I have been a nurse sense 1992, thank you for your insight. I can’t imagine working in retail then to health care, it would be a huge change. Thank you for all you do

    • Donna

      Why would you think it’s OK to belittle anothers job? I’ve been an RN for 22 years and a NP for the last 10 years. Until you’ve worked in out patient care you have no place to say she has an easier job. Stop over inflating your importance. #12 should be ” healthcare is full of egocentric bullies.”

    • Katrina Derickson Xavier

      If you haven’t walked in her shoes, kindly apologize for the way you just insulted this author. It’s easy to bully people online when they can’t see you. You don’t know what anyone but yourself has to deal with so don’t take it upon yourself to make that judgment. If you are in healthcare, I really hope I get someone else if I need the services of whatever field you work.

    • Life With Teens

      Wow I hope I never have to get help at your clinic, if that’s the attitude you have toward your fellow care workers.

      • Occupy Medic

        @Brian: wow, just wow. I’ve been a first responder (first aid/mountain rescue) for a decade. Both professional & volunteer & I have NEVER seen that level of disrespect given to another member of the healthcare chain. (ok maybe when I saw two ski patrol members get in a fistfight in the locker room) BUT, that was the only other time. See my point?

    • Madigan1323

      Considering she worked retail before, I’d say she worked a lot of nights and holidays and missed family functions galore. I know I did. Duh. Seriously, who do you think you are? And working the night shift is less busy than the day shift because most patients are sleeping- be honest. And she talks about her patients dying, so that was really unfair. And let me let you in on a little secret about support staff that you obviously don’t know…you may know the patient’s health, but we know the patient’s humanity. I get to know them, their families, and often have to strike a balance between the two in order to make your job easier. They tell me their hopes, their fears, their future plans and dreams. I hold their children while they see you and answer multiple calls with my other hand. I know their schedules and often what they do for a living that could impact their health. They pass out on me, cry with me, and throw up on me. When they have an emergency, it’s me who answers their call and triages appropriately. I’ve even sent ambulances to people’s homes. Heck, I’ve even BEEN in the ambulances that go to people’s homes. They feel comfortable telling me the things that they don’t tell you. I navigate the complicated arena of insurance and pre authorization so they can even get to you to have a procedure done. This means I need to know my stuff, which I do, even if I don’t have letters after my name like you do. You can’t do your job unless I do mine. Don’t undervalue me, we are a team.

      • Connie Lancaster

        Can I like this twice?

        • kristin

          I want to like it twice too. From a patients point if view being in the hospital for a 4 night stay, I got NO sleep! The lights in my room where turned out but not in the hallway.. healthcare employees were talking and bussling about… every 8hrs or so I had a new entourage. Hospitals are definitely not quiet at night. The world never sleeps.

      • Charlene Miles

        Really, night shift is less busy?! It is a different busy. Patient’s don’t sleep, we wake them up, the lab wakes them up, pain wakes them up, having to void or have a bowel movement wakes them up, stress and worry wake them up… There is less staff to tend to the 300+ lb patient that is incontinent or being prepped for a scope the following day. There is no one extra to answer phones that do NOT stop ringing or call bells of patients that have numerous requests through the night whether for assistance or a snack. And let’s not forget the patients with sundowners that are climbing out the bed because they want to go to who knows where and don’t remember they are in the hospital more or less all of the lines connected to them and their families can’t stay with them because of their other responsibilities or they just don’t exist. The ER doesn’t close and people are not held for admission until day shift comes on. Night shift is busy! I have worked day shift and night shift neither are easy or slow. I actually prefer day shift, functioning soundly with an irregular sleep pattern is not easy or even healthy but we do it! So to have someone say night shift isn’t as busy bites.

        To the author of this article God Bless. We are most successful as a team appreciating and respecting everyone’s position and it seems like you get that. Enjoy your healthcare journey there is nothing like it.

        • Madigan1323

          Truth is somewhat subjective. My truth is based on my experiences and your truth on yours. But with the numerous examples I gave of the things I do, I am disappointed that you took ONE thing from it and decided to write a rant. Shame on you for looking for the bad. I’m disappointed in you. We should be united against jerks like Brian.

        • JenRRT

          I want to know where this mythical hospital where everyone sleeps through the night exists. I keep hearing about it from day shift staff but I have never seen it. And no matter how hard I beg no one will lock the ER doors and turn off the lights.

          • amylou

            I worked nights for many years and no, the work doesn’t stop and the patients don’t sleep.
            My experience has been that the people who believe the night shift is “easy” wouldn’t be caught dead missing their sleep.
            For those who do it..you rock!

      • Lwhitt

        I work night night shift at a hospital as a CNA and I can say for certain nights are just as busy if not more than days and it is a totally different place at night even the patients are totally different even more difficult because most of the time they are alone because their families have gone home . If you haven’t worked direct patient care before you wouldn’t have any way of knowing that and that’s okay but please don’t assume you know. I’ve Also worked in a family practice office so I do know both sides of my job as a health care professional.

        • Madigan1323

          I have. But again, truth is somewhat subjective. …see my response above.

      • Carla Hargrove

        Working night shift is NOT easier! I voluntarily moved to the night shift (from days) because of the ridiculous internecine fighting. On nights, I really learned the meaning of teamwork as our charge nurse was a great leader. We worked in a busy ICU, with a variety of med-surg issues, all of complex acuity, including CABGs. We had less staff, accomplished more and dealt with issues as they arose. Frankly, I feel that my assessment and communication skills improved working the night shift and, I had almost six years of critical care experience when I volunteered to change shifts and I’m sure that my confidence as a nurse grew during that time. The idea that every patient is asleep is a myth.

        • Madigan1323

          I’m going to say this one more time….THIS WAS MY EXPERIENCE. NIGHTSHIFT WAS EASIER FOR ME WHEN I WORKED IT COMPARED TO DAY SHIFT. YOU CANT ARGUE WITH SOMEONES EXPERIENCE. That being said, I will now call you out as well for only looking for the negative in my statement. All those things I wrote and that’s the only thing you responded to? SHAME ON YOU. What kind of a person does that?

    • Teresa

      Brian. Your condescension and disrespect is offensive to all healthcare workers. I have worked in many areas of healthcare over the last 40 years and those on the front line are lifesavers. I cannot imagine getting through the day without them. Your comments reveal the attitude of a bully and someone with an overinflated ego. Try to do your “direct care” job when you have to stop what you’re doing every three minutes to answer the phone. Maybe you’ll learn something.

      • Marion

        Our clinic support staff puts up with a lot of abuse from clients. Plus people coughing and sneezing on them, swearing at them, and letting their kids run wild. And they are VASTLY underpaid.

    • andypete357

      Really, is that all you have done, Brian??? I’m an RN and have been in
      the medical field for 27 years. I was a combat medic in the ARMY ( have
      you served in the military? ) in 2 wars. Worked on several paramedic
      ambulances and in the ER. I have seen friends get killed and lose limbs,
      been away from this country for years at a time, there is no “night or
      day shift” when you are at war. You work till the job is done, sleep of
      no sleep and under staffed. Who are you to judge others on being
      overworked, cupcake? I see her as doing the best for others with what
      she has and has seen fit to share it with us. No more, no less. Why
      don’t you stand up for your field and stop putting it down.

    • Ella

      Hello, Brian. I work in a very large hospital’s very large Emergency Room. My department is Registration and Admitting which is considered “support staff” and conducts most of the same functions as front office staff in a clinic or HUC but does so in an ED setting. Comparing “direct care providers” to us is not, as you so glibly put, comparing apples to “anything else”. Our schedule is 24/7 just like clinical staff. We work the night shift, day shift, swing shifts, just like clinical staff. We work holidays and weekends and miss time with our families (arguably more so since we work 5 day schedules and they work 3 day schedules with more time off because they are a larger, better funded staff than we are). We get short staffed too, but when our clinical staff are short-staffed it effects pt through-put and we are the ones the patients take it out on because we check them in. We work in the same physical areas as them, with the same patients, encountering (aside from needlesticks) the same risks (exposures, security and violent patients, etc…). When they aren’t around or don’t want to deal with someone, guess who becomes the “Nurse” to the patient or their family. That’s right, they come to us. Only we aren’t able to do nearly the things our Nurses or Orderlies are trained and authorized to do for them, but that doesn’t stop them from asking us every 15 minutes and trying our best to help in any way that is within our power. Also, we get to deal with special experiences like; explaining to patients about their own insurance coverage and trying to get them to adhere to their contractually obligated fiancial responsibilities. Another misnomer I wish the author had included…We don’t set or decide what your Copay or Deductible amount is! Your insurance, that you signed up with, does! That is an agreement set between you and your insurer and asking us to “waive” it is like asking the grocery store not to charge you for that bag of chips you just finished off in the middle of the store.

      What’s more, we are grossly underpaid but that doesn’t matter because we work in this field for the same reasons “direct care providers” do. We want to help people and doing this work is what we are good at doing. It’s what we even, as stressful as it can be, like to do. So get over yourself you “direct care provider”. Could you, strictly speaking, do your job without us? Sure. But, unless you work for free or for a charitble free clinic, you would not be getting paid. And try doing it for longer than a day when supplies start running out or a week and the lights shut off because there’s no money for the hospital to pay their bills. Don’t be ignorant. You may be doing the “action” but we ensure that everyone is reimbursed for doing it. We make your job possible to do, not the other way around, buddy. And, by the way, one of the hardest parts of our job is putting up with self-righteous, ungrateful coworkers who think like you do. Learn to say “thank you” and appreciate support staff. Or don’t. Only you can make the choice to remain ignorant about how your own organization and Healthcare itself functions. So good luck with that if that’s your choice.

    • keydun

      You have NO idea what you are talking about. I’m a Social Worker at a dialysis facility and our unit clerk NEVER stops. Yes, she works late sometimes, yes, she bonds with patients and when they die, she hurts. We work every holiday except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years day and those have to be made up on Sundays. Other holidays off……we have to use PTO. Don’t belittle someone else’s job, unless you have served in that capacity.

  • Weeks

    This was a good article. Having to deal with the medical industry a lot the last 2.5 years (my husband has had cancer 3xs), I have dealt with many doctors offices and hospital staff. Coming from an industry my self that is high stress, fast paced and you rarely hear thank you, I try to be patient and realize that the person at the front counter does not directly have control over most things. So if you have a problem or issue, don’t go to them and take your frustrations out on them. Telling them “you have me waiting” is not fair because they cannot control how long the doctor takes or anyone else. We should thank them for what they do and appreciate them trying to help us. This world would be a much better place if we said “thank you” a lot more and showed some appreciation.

    • KatSut1978 .

      THANK YOU!!!! You get it and I love you for that!!! I literally feel like a punching bag at work sometimes, so it is so nice to read someone coming to the defense of front desk people. We work so often with our hands tied. People think we are 411, 911 and their own personal secretary on a daily basis. They choose not to understand that we are dealing with multiple patients all with unique issues and there is usually only one or two of us at the desk. Thanks again for your compassion. It is appreciated more than you know!

  • Steve Bonning

    The author has many valid points and those points are presented well. As a former Registered Nurse and currently a Physician Assistant, her background matters little-she is correct in what she says.

  • Ann

    Love the article! I worked as a nurse for 40 yrs, LPN, then RN. I now teach medical assistant students and am going to give each a copy of this article.

  • Josie Gomez

    As a clinical Medical Assistant since 1999 with experience in multiple specialty assisting doctors directly and indirectly it’s been a very rewarding career in health care . For the last year I have been doing the administration part of medical assisting and it has been my personal experience that on a daily basis it’s like slaying a dragon! When Checking in patients with a COPAY or a HIGH DEDUCTIBLE and having to ask them for their patient responsibility portion… OMG!?…a patient can go from ZERO to SIXTY on you. Lol. We are the FRONT LINE of the medical field and the most UNDERPAID!!! I personally let my patients VENT then kill them with kindness and of course find an acceptable payment arrangement if possible. You must realize that every position in health care is important we all need to work together as a team for our patients health care needs.

  • Manda

    I was with you right up until the blood work. Any competent medical professional will tell you that blood work isn’t an exact science. It doesn’t necessarily “lie,” but it can lead you in the wrong direction. I eat a low-fat diet, and still have super high triglycerides. For years, my doctors accused me of basically being a pig and lying about my diet. It turns out I actually have several hormonal issues, some of which didn’t show up on my blood work right away, or were misinterpreted. I was (understandably) misdiagnosed several times over the last decade.

    You said yourself that you’re not a direct care provider and that you have no education regarding actual medicine. With this in mind, perhaps you should have refrained from commenting on the diagnostic aspect of patient care in this article.

  • AMom

    As a patient with a chronic, autoimmune illness, this article makes me very angry! I have been proactive, followed instructions, arrived on time, been denied services and medications due to my insurance, had a resident tell me I was healthier than them when I was in ICU and my labs revealed antibiotic resistant infection. If you don’t want to deal with sick public, don’t be a medical receptionist.

  • yankydave

    The author hasn’t even been doing the job and year and took the job because it was a job. #11 is funny. The wait time comment may be true but waiting an hour at the same office that will charge me if I don’t cancel outside of 24 hours is hypocrisy.

  • Jessica E Taylor

    I really feel like this is why quality care with patients is going down we belittle each other as coworkers. Our jobs everyone’s job in a facility big or small from the time the patient checks in to checking out we work as a team. I am a float patient rep so I go to every dept we have except for psychology which is one dept we don’t have. Usually when a patient has to wait another patient has came in bleeding profusely or possible leg clot or is having chest pains and will only see their doctor and legally we cannot and would not turn them away. So yes sometimes our doctors get behind would you like to be seen for your 6m follow up. Or appreciate that your doctor if that was you would save your life. And for the few nurses that think we upfront don’t do anything we are your front line we take the brunt if a phone call has gone unreturned if a patient is angry we try to turn it around before we go to get nurses just so you don’t have to deal with the same.

  • bruce

    Great job, Elizabeth.

  • Anne

    Would like to share this otherwise helpful post, but I’m embarrased that an English major and avid writer would say, “They may have initially went in to this industry…”

    • KatSut1978 .

      Snarky much?

  • Robyn72

    The fact that these common sense truisms need to be repeated so many times is depressing. And if people don’t already know #1, then all hope is lost. Actually, all hope is lost anyway. People are ignorant because its easy. Thought and being objective is not, in fact, it can be painful.

    • Robyn72

      Oh, sorry, I didn’t see Donna down there. Yes, I mean you.

  • Jannit Nolen-Bevers

    I truly wish our most recent hospitalization went nearly s well as you describe. We faced negligence, inept & untrained staff. We quickly learned to trust no one and stayed with our college age daughter 24/7. She was misdiagnosed, they cut her hospital identity bracelet off & replaced it with another patient’s, our ICU room was not cleaned in two weeks so we bought Chlorox wipes & cleaned it ourselves. They made us remove our functioning wound vac & replaced it with their nonfunctional one, they were unable to get supplies to support their own machinery. They did not once deliver her a meal as prescribed by her Dr & told us they can’t charge us for less than 1800 calories daily when the Dr ordered high protein, low carb, 800 calories daily maximum. They removed the picc line IV she was supposed to be discharged with, then had to reinsert it again. We had to monitor hand washing and glove wearing, few did either and she was septic. We requested a consult with a wound doctor. 3 are on staff but cannot be seen while inpatient. We did all catheterization, bowel evacuation & wound debridement and packing ourselves. We repositioned her hourly, they could not be bothered. We found the ICU charge nurse sound asleep at the nurses station when the call button went unanswered. We provided our own catheters, chux pads, chlorox wipes, wet wipes, wound packing, vac canisters, non latex gloves and tegaderm tape. We brought in her meals, stayed when they refused us even one chair. Brought our own chairs. We examined every directive and medication to be sure it actually was for her this time. We bathed her. And we just got her out last night to receive far better care at home as she undergoes 8-12 more weeks of IV Infusion. If we must return to inpatient status or the ICU, I assure you it will not be there where they missed that she was 7 units low on red blood cells when she checked in. We have over 30 hours of recorded conversation with the staff and made daily requests for our concerns to be charted. Those were recorded, too. This is the only level 4 trauma center between Albuquerque, NM & Dallas, TX. Over a quarter of a million people live in this city. You must advocate for yourselves. We caught them billing for faulty equipment so our insurance will not pay for our working durable medical equipment. Even our good nurses were not allowed to get the supplies they needed from another department. From Feb 13 to March 2 we witnessed fraud, waste, abuse, negligence, political power struggles between departments, attempted negligent homicide, extortion, and general ineptitude that was horrifying. We filed complaints & threatened to leave AMA, against medical advice. They refused to transport her to another facility. It took threats of a huge malpractice suite to get her out so we could transport and arrange for adequate care. So there are more than 11 things a patient’s advocate wishes you knew, also.

  • KatSut1978 .

    Excellent points. Some people on this thread seem to enjoy being rude and completely non-understanding, but I for one, agree with the majority of your article. Not ALL medical facilities are run the same and some have it easier than others, so I won’t waste time nit-picking you to death as others have. However, you touched on the basics of what it’s like to be in the healthcare field and I am glad this is out there for rational thinking people with no axe to grind to read in order to, perhaps, be a little better to each other.

  • Sean Wormuth

    Nice piece. In just a few months you have gained the insight it takes some people an entire career to acquire. It may not be your industry of choice, but I’d say you have what it takes to succeed in healthcare–just the right mix of compassion and realism.

  • Sharon Fraley

    Not all nurses have compassion for the patient’s and their families, if you do not enjoy being a patient understanding person you are in the wrong profession,nurses wears many hats, meaning you are a second hand for all the Dr’s, you are a waitress, your are a walking medical dictionary, you are a teacher, a mentor, so many jobs that nurses do that people never gets to see or know about, I was told by a patient one time you are lucky all you do is give shots, take temp Blood pressures and simple things like that, I had to chuckle, because she does not know about the patient who died in my arms,or the young child brought in because a parent decided they were going to hurt that child, remembering all the physical and mental damage that that child will have for the rest of it’s life, dealing with a ton of questions that the family members have to ask you and still do not understand what you have told them, making sure all the charting is done before the shift has ended, calling Dr. at home because they have forgotten to put something down on the chart or forgot a medicine that a patient needed, helping and getting the bathing stuff to the patient so the Patient get cleaned up before their food trays are served by us, and all they test that are scheduled for that day is followed thru, getting patients who are scheduled for surgery that day,this is not a 1/3 of the things a nurse does on her shift, I loved nursing, I miss the patients I have cried with them, prayed with them and their families, gave them a hug when they lost a love one, so when a patient says you are lucky they are right I am because the LORD placed me there to witness for him and be as kind, loving person and show my CHRISTIAN light so others might see his love through me and have a loving heart for others!

  • JenRRT

    If you or a family member are critically I’ll please don’t take offense when the staff is at the desk laughing. We feel terrible for you and will probably lose sleep over you. But for now we have a 12 hour shift to get through and other patients to see.

  • Matt Hadley

    Some patients are always on time for their appointments. Some patients come prepared with medications lists, insurance cards, and other info they know will be needed. Some patients have spent 18 months out of the previous 36 in hospitals and know a lot about health care in general, but particularly about their own health care. And while those patients will always be kind to you because that’s the decent thing to do, they don’t like being stereotyped and lumped in with the ones described above and would greatly appreciate you learning to distinguish between the two.

  • MzGritz

    Well done and thank you! While the majority of our patients are wonderful people, there are some who redefine disrespect. Most of our patients understand that I am alone at the front desk and am checking them in as quickly as possible. Although I’m “just the front desk person” I’m also the one who responds to patients passing out in the lobby, miscarrying in front of my eyes, experiencing a cardiac episode, and getting them the immediate assistance they need. I check-in/check-out, verify insurance, take co-pays, schedule appointments for all our specialties, give hugs, touch hands, pass out tissues when the news is not good, and celebrate when a patient stops by to tell me they received a good report! I love my job despite being worn out at the end of the day. I have splendid co-workers who value our contribution to the success of the practice even though we’re grossly under-paid and worked like pack mules – it’s all about our patients.

  • Anita Rein

    I’ve worked in Healthcare for over 13 years and have also don’t the last 21 years as a patient suffering from a chronic illness. It’s a two way street you know? Your article is informative for those out there that may not know but I hope while you are at work in health care you never let on to patients anything about the behind the scenes nonsense . Plus you say that nurses or health care professionals need to act hard because they have to? That is a no.no in any service profession. I am also afraid you are wrong Healthcare has become the dumping ground for many that don’t know what to do with their lives and it seems easy enough. As you systed, it’s not , but a job is still a job, especially when you have bills to pay.This makes it hard to leave and even harder for pt.’s that gave to deal with the enormous job dissatisfaction many workers in the industry possess.

  • Katie82640

    There’s another take on patient care here -http://scrubbing.in/12-things-nurses-wish-their-patients-knew-about-them/

    And personally I’d rather be seen by that person .

  • Anonymous

    What this article shows more than anything else is how broken the medical system really is. And while the author MAY have made a few meaningful points, I still felt quite a bit of “us vs. them”/patient blame game. Guess what, you do NOT care more about my health than I do, but your crappy crappy world (while not personally your fault) is quite a hurdle to overcome on so many levels!

  • Benjamin

    The hardest thing I ever did in the medical field, was to offer my condolences to a young husband on the death of his wife. “Here are her clothes and valuables, sir. I have to advise you to consider one of the local funeral homes to take disposition of her body”. The blank look and stare was more than I could stand, and we stood and cried on each other’s shoulders, and I could only say “I’m so sorry”. I was administrative – not direct patient care.

  • sharilu

    Have been RN 50 years. Some of this is not true. Not everyone working in health care is there because they want to help people. More and more are there because that is where they could find a job. Most nurses care but not all. You have no idea why someone doesn’t show up. Sick people can forget – especially if they are on meds or have an illness that causes forgetfulness.
    My last 11 years were at hospice. By the time patients got to us they often have been so mistreated by the medical system it takes time for them to trust that I will do what I say I will do and truly care about them.

  • Lynette Dregallo

    I always try to be polite and kind when I go to the Dr.’s office. Everyone there is extremely busy, and the only time I have a problem is when i have waited for long past my appt time and then the Dr. doesn’t really want to take the time to listen to you, but wants to push you out of the office as quickly as possible. It doesn’t happen often, but it has happened.

    I understand that, where you work, people are understanding and caring, but not all Dr. and nurses care. When my father was sick, we dealt with many, many uncaring health professionals. He was in a rehab facility getting a short round of radiation. He was a diabetic. They fed him sugary foods and gave him huge doses of insulin. My mother had to help him use the bathroom, and bath him. When he was in severe pain and knew something was wrong, he told them he wanted to go back to the hospital. They doped him up with so many painkillers he couldn’t even talk, then they asked him again if he wanted to go to the hospital. How could he answer when he couldn’t speak. We didn’t know it at the time, but while he was getting the radiation treatments, no one was giving him his blood transfusions. when he died, his blood pessure was at a whopping 30. He died in the hospital throwing up the last of the small amount of blood in his body and the (what I believe was an overdose) painkillers.

    The woman running that rehab center had already decided that my father’s time was up. She had previously worked in hospice (not a judgement on all hospice workers) and even though the doctors said my dad should be fine in a few weeks, she didn’t think he was worth saving. She kept trying to convince us to give up on him because that’s what he would want, but she didn’t know him. He died two weeks after enter the “rehabilitation” center.

    So, my point is that not all health care professionals do care. We as patients put our lives in your hands, so try to understand from our point of view. So, while I am polite, I can sometimes be a bit harsh when I don’t feel a Dr. is being direct with me. When we ask too many questions or try to get answers that Dr. or nurses don’t want to give, we are just trying to protect ourselves. If we don’t ask questions and push, how are we supposed to know whether you can be trusted. if i had pushed hard and asked more questions, when my dad couldn’t do it for himself, maybe he wouldn’t have had to die in such a horribly painful way.

  • cindiowens

    As a registered nurse working in a hospital, I appreciate what you have written. Good job.

  • Cory Byrd

    Nothing a little communication wouldnt cure. Especially the wait time load of crap

  • Thomas Ratcliffe

    My father has worked in the Health Care industry almost all of my 51 years of age, and he is still grinding through the day, only he has been semi-retired due to his advanced age so now he’s answering the telephone, and listening to all of the patients complain, and cuss him for this or that reason… so I know a LOT about what goes on behind the counters, and at the other end of the telephone call… This article is quite well written. There is one thing about the medical paperwork that really gets my goat, and that is having to fill out the same form every single trip to the office… I mean my medical history, and surgeries haven’t changed in six months, and if they had changed it could be added to the other paperwork as an addendum… Besides, I have listed my allergies every single time that I have been to any doctor’s office, and especially the ER… so… I list Phenergan, Vistaril, and Morphine as medications to which I am severely allergic. The reaction for these medications being severe tremmors, rapid heart rate, difficulty breathing, and with Morphine I go into respiratory distress, and I started turning blue. They had to intubate me, and I was in MICU overnight for the morphine that I was given while Radiology was giving me a post op MRI. I get SO ticked off when I fill out my Allergies every time, and EVERY time I ask the nurse what is in the syringe, and he/she tells me Phenergan, or Vistaril with Morphine… Did they NOT bother to read my Allergy information, or is the ER TRYING to KILL ME???
    It really bothers me that these medical “Professionals” are not being very professional at ALL… and it Worries me that if I’m involved in an accident where I can’t ask them what is in the syringe that they are going to murder me with their stupidity… I mean REALLY… I have my allergies listed in my wallet, and I have an allergy bracelet, and pendant, but I doubt that they’d read it. Besides, they remove all jewelry in an O.R…. It all boils down to what I call Over Educated Idiot Syndrome…

  • Scott Bartlett

    I am an optometrist with four years experience working on a Native American reservation. I know many eye doctors work in private practice, but I deal with serious medical issues such as blindness from diabetes, glaucoma, and vision loss from stroke or trauma. Working in public health service with a very high risk population does require one to have thick skin. Unfortunately a lot of the diabetic patients on dialysis have a harder time maintaining stable vision and are at risk for irreversible blindness. In every healthcare profession there are various modes of practice. Thanks for posting this article.

  • Kimberly Lowe

    Love this! All very very true. Especially about lying to us and how frustrating it is to care more about a pts health than they or their family do. But one thing I’d like to point out is that not all nurses know nothing about the administrative side of things as you’d think. Some of us worked that side while in nursing school to help pay bills 🙂

  • Drew Washington

    Looks like this thread turned into a day shift vs. night shift battle. SMH

  • Lynda Naatz Richter

    I strongly disagree with her statement that there is not impact on your form of reimbursement for care. I am a therapist of 33 years. Many, if not most, of my clients receive medicaid, so my “fee for service” jobs mean I get what your insurance pays, cut in at least half, with the clinic. Wisconsin has not raised actual reimbursement rates since I began to work here in WI in 2000. That means, factually, that I have not gotten a raise in 16 years. Not only that, but I have actually taken a pay cut every year for 16 years. I never gave different therapy to any client based on payment. However, I went from Medicaid to Badgercare, to private insurance, back to Medicaid across my career. BELIEVE me that private insurance meant I had FAR superior respect from contact staff, the whole clinic, although probably not from my physician. I was treated at intellectually inferior, and just not deserving of time or energy by many Mercy Health Care personnel, although I and my husband both worked full time; myself as a Licensed Professional Counselor, and he as a Master Carpenter. Neither job provided insurance, and thankfully, Wisconsin (at that time) provided a buy-in to medicaid. You paid a premium, and got Medicaid. This helped fund Medicaid, and put us into a group policy, which kept our costs low. Watch how you judge people as everyone is fighting a battle you cannot see, nor could ever understand.

  • Melissa VanDonselaar

    O so true! I work in a dialysis clinic as well and feel the exact same way. I wish it could be easier some days but love my job. And I definitely have developed the tough skin. Healthcare isn’t a job where you can wuss out.