Nurses know how to take care of others, but are often unaware of what it is like to be on the patient-side. Here, a blogger nurse (rnsheri, BSNshares some of the positive and negative aspects of health care from a patient’s point of view and proposes that having both the patient’s and the nurse’s point of view enhances your nursing ability.

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As healthcare professionals, we may forget how to be a patient. We love our patients, we sometimes get frustrated with our patients, and occasionally we will BE patients. I had the opportunity to be an inpatient at the hospital I worked at. I found out several things during this experience I would like to share with you. Perhaps you can relate to some of them.

1) The ER is scary, and while my nurse was pleasant, the doctor intimidated me. The waiting room was busy with frightened patients, angry patients, and crying children. I could barely concentrate on my forms and felt terrible and dizzy and nauseated. I had just found out my H & H was very low when I attempted to donate blood. The doctor looked at me like I had lost my mind, which is understandable.

2) I admired the amazing IV and bloodwork skills but finally understood how uncomfortable the IV catheter is in the antecubital space. It was like a huge splinter that annoyed me whenever I made the mistake of moving my arm. Once I was on the floor, I had my RN re-stick me in the forearm. She said she understood how I felt—she’d had IV’s placed in the AC too.

3) It is very embarrassing when the hospitalist ordered an occult blood sample x 3. I did not want my caretakers to see my poop. I never thought twice when I collected stools from patients, but I felt embarrassed.

4) I didn’t want food before the NPO status, but as soon as I knew I couldn’t eat, I felt ravenously hungry.

5) Everything and everyone looks different from a supine position.

6) Hospital gowns are horrible. The prep for my procedure was horrible. However, having funny, compassionate nurses and nursing assistants made the awful things a little better.

7) The IV “colonoscopy cocktail” is the best thing ever—except it makes you tell the whole truth to whoever will listen. If there’s something you don’t want everyone to know, plan your visitors accordingly.

8) Having a list of medications you’re taking makes life so much easier for everyone involved.

9) Laughter really is the best medicine. I know everyone differs, but I loved laughing with my co-workers. It calmed me down and made me feel normal—even in the horrible gown, even when I was choking down.

10) It is very hard to look good in the hospital. My hair was a rat’s nest, I was very pale, and my skin felt oily. I worried about how I smelled. I wished I had a razor or had taken care of shaving my legs before my hospital visit. I wanted my teeth brushed before anyone assessed me, every day. As you may know, assessments happen all the time.

11) You can’t lie about your weight when you get weighed daily. Nor can you hide the smell of your GI bleed poop.

12) I realized that to be a good and competent nurse, I needed to “practice what I preached”. I took better care of myself because I was aware of how easily health can slip away. I know it seems obvious, but I also know I’m not the only nurse that does this.

I realized how truly exposed you feel as a patient. I still get nervous going to the doctor—even for check-ups. Kindness, professionalism, and humor matter. I think that my experience as a patient made me a better nurse.

Some of these observations might seem obvious but possibly the experiences of this nurse could help you to see things from a patient’s point of view in future.

Have you been a patient in the hospital? Do you have any helpful and constructive contributions that you might want to add? Please share in the comments below.

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