Kari Ulrich: Experienced from both sides of the bed

This guest post by Kari Ulrich, RN, originally appeared in a fibromuscular dysplasia e-patients’ blog.

The November 2011 issue of Reader’s 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 Reader’s 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.


Posted in: ethics | general | how I became an e-patient | shared decision making




2 Responses to “Kari Ulrich: Experienced from both sides of the bed”

  1. Kari, I love this … welcome to membership in SPM, and thanks for this. We’ve often written about when doctors themselves become e-patients, which (IMO) eliminates any debate about whether patient engagement is anti-doctor. It’s a great addition to see the perspective of a nurse who’s an engaged patient, observing and commenting on the role of good doctors.

    I particularly love posts that perceptively highlight constructive, engaging interaction between participatory clinicians and their patients. Thanks.

  2. Lorraine says:

    I’ve only been on the patient side of the bed.I have had wonderful nurses and always make sure to thank them. I know they are doing a million things at once and that’s not including all the charting. I really hesitate to call them unless I need help or have bad pain. I can’t thank the nurses that have helped me through the many hospital stays enough. I remember during ICU stay for carotid dissection.One of the nurses just sat on the edge of my bed for a few minutes because I was so frightened that I was going to die.That meant the world to me.I think being an informed patient ,always carry list of medications and medical history. I’ve had more nurses and dr’s say doing that makes me a great patient. Also be respectful .I was recently in hospital I have prinzmetal angina) was on the cardiac floor and there where some whiney, demanding patients..treating nurses like waitresses ugh!!!

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