Not too long ago one of my hospitalized patients said he needed a different primary care doctor when he is discharged. His current doctor is one of the best in the community and yet, something just didn’t work out. And what didn’t work out was the doctor’s health. He recently had a coronary bypass surgery and the patient simply said “how can I trust him with my health if he can’t even help himself?” I had absolutely nothing to say in response.
I started thinking about our responsibilities as health care workers and how our behavior and even physical appearance affects the patients. How much trust do you have in a physician who is overweight and who tells you to lose weight to feel better? What if your doctor has heart disease and requires an open heart surgery? What do patients think of nurses who return from smoking breaks with cigarette smell on their clothes? How do they feel going to a restaurant and seeing their home health nurse drinking excessively?
One patient told me the call light response was slow in our hospital because it takes longer for an overweight nurse to walk to his room.
Patients are smart to figure out double standards and immediately your credibility goes down. As a part of healthcare team we have to strive not only for superior training, but also look and feel up to par. If we are in a position of advising sick people what to do, we have to be pretty darn perfect ourselves. That means no smoking breaks and no donuts at the nursing station :) Interestingly enough, there is research showing that doctors who have normal weight are more likely to give weight reduction counseling than their overweight peers. This means our practice patterns are affected by our weight! This is serious stuff.
Today I was aimlessly surfing blogs and found a video on time management. The presenter was morbidly obese and I couldn’t help, but wonder – if he is so good at giving lectures on how to manage time, why doesn’t he manage to squeeze some exercise in?! Anyway, the presentation was very good, but I do have a strange feeling about my own feelings during it. And by the way, I don’t think I used to pay attention to such things a year ago.