Can You Thank A Nurse?

A few weeks ago, I had to support someone who had to go to the emergency room. They were really sick, and regardless of all the reasons they didn’t want to go to the hospital, they knew that they had to and begrudgingly went. And then they waited forever. A few days later, I read an article in the newspaper about another ill individual who had to wait over twelve hours to see a doctor at a different hospital. I mistakenly started to read the comments and a few themes emerged..

  • Free healthcare isn’t free when you have to wait forever to see a doctor or get a test done
  • My nurse, doctor, insert medical professional here was short, rude, curt, or too “busy” to meet my needs
  • Why do people go to the emergency room when they can go to a walk in clinic? Why can’t they use the Evisit program?
  • This is the governments fault; they need to do something
  • And the list goes on..

Now, before you continue reading, I think it is important for me to state that I am not a medical professional, I don’t follow the politics of the healthcare system and this is solely just my thoughts on things. And when I say to thank a nurse, I encompass any and all medical professionals who take care of us in the day to day. Feel free to take with you what you will.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

However, from an outside perspective looking in, here is what I think people need to try and remember:

  1. Free Healthcare is free. It is a luxury, even with the wait times. Is it annoying that you have to wait six months for an ultrasound, or spend six hours in the emergency room with a broken bone? Yes. Is it frustrating that you can’t get a family doctor so even something as simple as a prescription refilled is a chore? Absolutely. But, you know what is NOT frustrating? It doesn’t cost a damn thing. It doesn’t matter what your issue, how many medical services you need to access, or even how long you’re stay is, you won’t get a bill. No bill. No debt. And no outstanding loan hanging over your head for something as simple as a Asthma attack, the flu or any other reason someone needs to utilize a medical service. Now, it is okay to be frustrated, but maybe don’t forget what you are accessing at no cost.
  2. There is definitely room for improvement. I fully agree that our healthcare system is flawed and if nothing else, COVID showed us that we do not have the resources necessary to manage the population if they need ongoing medical assistance. Yes, the government needs to step up and put more money into healthcare; staffing, upgrades, rural clinic options, more doctors just to name a few ideas. They also need to put money into preventative measures such as adequate food, housing or employment so people do not need the medical support as often. It actually helps lessen the pressure on the system, and although costly up front, beneficial long term. Social determinants of health is what the professionals call it if you want to research it more.
  3. Accessing a walk-in clinic or Evisit is not that simple. If you live in a rural area, there is no walk in clinic, and usually there is not strong enough internet connections that would allow for an e-visit. It can also be a complicated system for those who have low literacy or technical skills. And according to Statistics Canada, NB has the lowest literacy rate in the country (another blog for another time). Even if you are close to a walk in clinic, most things that require further testing cannot be done in the immediacy and referrals and further doctors visits are going to be part of the equation. Not one person, and I feel confident in saying this, actually wants to need the emergency room, or sit there for hours on end. So, although the system is overrun with patients, maybe not blame the ones who are needing it, and regardless of why.
  4. It is not the staff’s fault! This one is the MOST important part of the whole healthcare issue in our province. The staff, those staff who continue to worked during a global pandemic, during the holidays without families, and through all hours of the day, are not the problem, issue or reason. Some of those staff are on their second back to back shift because they are short staffed due to sick leaves, burnout or lack of government funding. Some of those staff have lost five patients so far today and don’t have the patience they had at the start of their shift. Some of them have been seeing the same patient over and over again and just wish they would care about their own health as much as the staff does. Some of them have personal issues, or their own health issues, that they are trying to ignore while taking care of yours. Some of them worked through a global pandemic and are just plain tired. And, they are also cleaning up puke, blood, snot and all sorts of other gross and nasty things that come out of our bodies. I know I couldn’t do it.

Is the healthcare system flawed? Hell yeah! Are you going to run into medical professionals who are just plain rude, crappy and dismissive? Sure you will. But, I think you will also run into more who are tired. Sick and tired of taking care of the sick and tired in a system that continues to ask them for more and more with less and less resources. So, although we did a decent job of thanking medical professionals during the COVID era (which I will admit is not yet over), we stopped remembering that those people are just that, people.

They are my sister who only gets to spend every second Christmas morning with her family. They are my colleague who takes care of the homeless and downtrodden who no-one else will get close to. They are the friend who are delivering babies and teaching first time parents how to care for them. They are the neighbor who works in surgeries putting broken bodies back together. They are my sister’s best friend who supports those whose mental health or addiction is running their life. They are each someone’s somebody and while they are taking care of you, or your loved ones, they are missing the time with their own families.

So, can you thank a nurse please? Can you try to remember to thank them even if they are short, or rude, or taking took long to respond to your needs? Can you thank them for working in a system that is working against them? And can you thank them for taking care of you, or someone you love, when you may need it most?

I will promise to continue to do the same.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest accomplishment, or the smallest act of caring, all which have the potential to turn a life around.”

– Lee Buscalgia

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