How do I deal with being star-struck with a VIP?

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It has happened to every nurse. You hear a rumor that quickly becomes the truth that so-and-so professional athlete is being transferred to your floor. Or the CEO of the hospital comes to tell you personally that the patient you are about to receive donated $5.6 million to build the very wing you are standing on. How do you react?

Bottom line, you treat that patient like any other patient. Sure, there will be circumstances outside of your control that will be different, such as incredible repercussions for violating HIPAA—in other words, no speaking of the hockey player with gallbladder disease by first name in the crowded elevator. Also, there may be an alias name on the door and chart for privacy’s sake, or visitors of the “higher-up” may crowd to see your patient. But when it boils down to it, the bedside care you provide your patient should be no different whether it’s Michelle Obama or the homeless guy who caught pneumonia or the criminal who was all over the news.

People in the hospital are oftentimes very vulnerable, and the last thing a patient needs is to be gawked at by the very person who’s seeing them at their worst: the nurse. Nurses should be fair caregivers no matter what the scenario may be. You can even add some humor to the situation by asking your Olympic champion patient what he does for a living. If it gets to a point where you find yourself treating the VIPs differently from your other patients because you’ve seen them on the big screen, you should consider leaving nursing and taking up a career in public relations.

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