I would like to begin my reflection essay by stating how much of an amazing experience this past year has been. It has been a rewarding time in my life where I was able to aid people at there most vulnerable times. Not to mention, help their families through a loss of a loved one.
Due to the nature of Hospice care I was not able to make a meaningful, lasting relationship with any of the patients and their families. I went once a week, every Sunday evening, and the same patient was never there twice. That being said, I was able to make a meaningful relationship with the staff of the unit. Ashton, a Nurse’s Aide, was a phenomenal mentor, and she was present for every step of my learning process.
Ashton showed me how to turn my first patient, and even gave me insight in what being a caretaker actually is. The job is a lot harder than it looks not because of the patients (although sometimes they can be difficult), but because of the amount of hats they need to wear in a given day. Being someone’s caretaker is much more than just making sure someone’s diaper is dry or they have enough water. If it were not for Ashton, my experience would not have been as meaningful or insightful. She has affected me so much that it drove me to apply for summer job positions as a Nurse’s Aide at a local nursing home.
Dealing with Hospice Patients has unquestionably influenced my understanding of medicine and future as a doctor. The care that hospice patients receive is by nature different from a normal hospital patient due to the goal of care. A hospice patient is being eased into death as comfortably as humanly possible, while a hospital patient is being fixed. The goal of care, I know now, is very important when talking to a patient and their families.
When I am a doctor, I will try to be as clear and as empathetic as possible. I will make an effort to not give patients false hope and continue to give them options of treatment, when I know there is nothing more I can do. It is important to speak about death and allow people to deal with death in their own way. Beating around the bush when it comes to speaking about death is not effective because it poison’s the person’s soul with hope and does not allow them to get ready for death. That being said, it is also important to be empathetic, not sympathetic. It is an important distinction because as a doctor it is crucial to understand someone’s feelings without feeling them yourself. If a doctor felt pain and sorrow for every patient that died, they would crumble and not be an effective caretaker.
I will try to always be conscious of the balance that is necessary, even though I don’t think I will deal with life and death situations as a doctor. I have also noticed from Hospice care, the importance of palliative care doctors and how they are not taken seriously. Dr. Randy, the medical director, made recommendations for patients throughout the hospital during a shadowing visit, and the doctors ignored his recommendations due to fear of opioids and ego. Having an ego as a healthcare professional would be the most counter-productive quality possible. The goal is to take care of the patient and if that means taking the advice of another doctor, by all means do it. Ego should not be involved in patient care at all.