Nurses are non-compliant?

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Coughing my way to the nurses station, I plopped down next to a couple of my coworkers and took a swig off my diet soda while popping a couple Advil.
“What’s wrong with you guys?” I asked, noting that one of my coworkers had her feet up, shoes off and pained look on her face while the other was crunching on some Tums. Both nurses lamented on the state of their current health (foot problems, upper GI upset) and the fact that neither of them had seen a doctor for their ailments. I could hardly chastise them as I was on week 4 of a never-ending cough and was limping on feet that were in dire need of some podiatry.

So, I asked the question of my fellow co-workers, “Why are nurses such bad patients? Why do we skip doctor appointments, ignore prescribed treatments, and/or neglect ourselves. Why are we so non-compliant?”

Candidly, this is what they answered:

1) “We don’t have the time, energy or money.” I guess this is related to twelve hour shifts, the state of our economy, and the fact that nurses are chronically exhausted. I concur. Plus even with the best insurance, healthcare is expensive. And honestly, it is no fun to spend our precious time off at the doctor’s office!

2) “We don’t trust doctors.” We nurses see docs behind the scenes, and yes, we don’t always like what we see. I’ll admit that the further I get into my career, the more I understand what these nurses are telling me about how they feel concerning docs.
I’d be lying if I said I haven’t lost a little respect for the profession. But I have found doctors I like and trust with my care. It has just taken more footwork!

3) “We can fix it ourselves.” Interestingly enough, I find nurses love to self-diagnose and try to remedy a lot of their own ailments. I’ll be the 1st to admit I try stuff at home before going to see my doctor. Take my feet: right now I am trying every shoe on the market, although I know in my heart I’m up for a doctor visit ‘cuz it’s turning out to be not that simple of a fix. Plus I know nurses who prefer more holistic routes to health and want to avoid popping antibiotics for every ailment–again, I concur.

4) “We procrastinate and/or lose track of time.” Yes, even nurses get behind on yearly exams. With such busy, stressful jobs, we often are more focused on staying on top of certifications, getting in our hours, going to meetings, updating CEU’s, going back to school, AND living our lives that we forget the whole maintannce side of things and before we know it, it has been three years since we’ve had a pap smear (ahem, I am referring to myself).

These answers surprised me a little, and resonated with me a lot. And I’m not sayin g these answers represent all nurses. But I have heard this stuff from a lot of my co-workers. This year I made a goal for myself: get in some check-ups. Now I find myself scurrying around on my days off from the dentist to the OB/GYN to the internist. My feet still hurt, I am still coughing, and I have two brand new fillings in my teeth. Oh, and I am still overweight. *sigh*

I’m making the time in hopes that I can care for myself a little better, although I believe that caring for myself starts with me and not some visit to the doctor’s. Being a nurse has changed how I operate in this area of my life, but not for the better, as of yet. I will say it again, how can I ever take care of anyone else if I don’t take care of myself?

Off to make that phone call to the podiatrist…

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