The Five Best Things I Learned from the Worst Doctor

I’ve worked with every kind of physician. Some are just okay, some are iffy, but the majority are really wonderful. But some of the most important things I’ve ever learned about taking care of someone, I learned from the absolute worst doctor I ever worked with at the very beginning of my career as a nurse.

smile

Smile – That’s right, it’s that easy. Just smile. I would see this particular doctor smile even when they were lying through their teeth. It didn’t matter that what they were saying was total bullshit, because they said it with a smile, people totally believed every word out of their mouth. Although that level of b.s. is not falling out of my mouth, I’ve learned to smile even when I’m telling someone something they don’t really want to hear, and it works every time. My patients and their family never get upset with me when I tell them something they totally don’t want to hear: you can’t wait in the hallway while she gets her epidural. You shouldn’t smoke around your pregnant wife. Stop doing drugs or your baby may come out messed up. Watch how much weight you’re gaining, I don’t want you to end up diabetic or with a big, fat baby 😃

Take the time to sit down – Let’s be honest, we don’t really have time to sit down and shoot the sh** with every single one of our patients. But just do it, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Literally, pull up a chair and just sit down, eye-level, and just talk. Talk about whatever…your kids, their kids, the weather, or work. It doesn’t matter. Just sit down and spend a few minutes literally at their level, just talking. Do it when your feet hurt and you could really use a break. You can kill two birds with one stone!

Understand the power of touch – Sometimes I would walk into a room and see this physician just holding the patient’s hand. Inside, I’d kind of inwardly cringe, but this too, taught me a lesson. Touch is so important. A gentle pat, a little rub, or just simply holding the patient’s hand provides so much reassurance and comfort.

TulgeyWood

Address their pain – Literally say these words to your patient: Controlling your pain is so important to me. And then really try to address their pain! It doesn’t even matter if you can actually make their pain go away, it’s the fact that you’re trying. They notice that! Laboring a woman who wants absolutely no medication is going to have some pain. We all know there’s no way they’re going to have a pain score of zero. But just keep trying. Give them medicine if they want medicine, give them extra pillows, lower the lights, tell someone in the room to massage them if you’re too busy to do it yourself, and for the love of God, keep the Motrin coming if they’re postpartum…they just had a baby!

Make yourself available – I have literally told every single patient I’ve ever had to call me at the hospital if they need me. And do you know how many have called? Maybe one. Maybe. But people are comforted just knowing that they could call you if they really needed to. And even though this one may make you raise your eyebrows, in reality, if your patient had a serious question or concern, you would want them to reach out for help.

Until my next delivery ❤

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10 thoughts on “The Five Best Things I Learned from the Worst Doctor

  • January 19, 2015 at 7:07 pm
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    i love your site!! fellow ob now whnp-bc

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    • January 4, 2016 at 10:25 am
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      I love this post! I don’t care if that patient comes in that has no teeth and stinks to high heaven, I always talk with them and treat them like I care. Maybe you will be the first person in their life to do that and they will always remember you. Just by talking about life with one of my patients she had told me things that had happened to her under anesthesia and I said OMG! She has Malignant Hyperthermia and has no clue!! If I had never talked and cared about her past experiences she may have never known and maybe she would of died a next time or maybe one of her children. I printed material so she would know what it was and how serious it can be. I feel good that even if she doesn’t go get that medical bracelet that maybe she will and it may save her life. I also saved her mother who had a similar experience and didn’t know about it. I truly felt like a hero that day

      Reply
  • January 20, 2015 at 6:40 am
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    Always love reading your posts! As someone who had to take out god daughter to emergency recently, your first and second points ring home for me.

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    • January 20, 2015 at 12:27 pm
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      That’s what I wish people in general remembered. .. How would you want to be treated? Or your mother? Or daughter? ?

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  • January 21, 2015 at 12:15 am
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    I love the give them Motrin part! I had a recovery nurse who asked me if I needed anything. This was five hours after having a posterior birth with an epidural that didn’t get turned on. I asked for some water to swallow the meds she gave me and she replied that I could get that myself! But, she said it with a smile…. I was still incredulous. Not cool, even with a smile. However, most times smiles really do help the medicine go down, as does a little pat and small talk.

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  • February 2, 2015 at 9:43 am
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    This “worst doctor” seems to be doing everything right based on your description :)

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  • April 10, 2015 at 3:40 pm
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    i’m surprised to hear that a doctor leading by example to teach those five important things could possibly be the worst doctor you ever worked with. Either you simply landed a great title or there must have been some grand ineptitude on his her part.

    Reply

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