To the Future Medical Care Providers

Samantha Higgins

I’ve always been pretty fortunate with my medical care when it came to my chronic illness. Others often complained about being brushed off and becoming frustrated that doctors who were unfamiliar with the condition, just acted like it didn’t exist, and I never related because my doctors were great. I even have a great resource at Health Services on campus (while everyone jokes that they just tell people they are pregnant) they have, from the start, educated themselves on my condition and done their best to ensure I receive the best care possible. They never once brushed me off or acted like my condition didn’t matter. So why did a nurse in Yale-New Haven Hospital do so?

I had a pretty crappy week last week and I ended up at Health Services three days in a row; finally, they sent me to the emergency room because of all the things going on. I was hopeful that the emergency room doctors would be able to help me because, even after being sick for a year in high school with no diagnosis, I still had faith in those in the medical field. Well, I was extremely disappointed. Not only did the nurse brush me off, but she also insulted me in the process, then pretended she knew my condition, when she very clearly didn’t. I’m a very easy person to get along with, and I understand that people don’t know what POTS is, so I don’t get offended when someone, even medical professions, are unaware of it. But this nurse was rude, and it was uncalled for. Then she stopped listening to me when I told her what was wrong, what I was there for, and what I needed. She said “you’re fine honey,” when I was in tears, and not in a supportive way, but in a condescending way in which she then walked away and discharged me without helping me at all.

I left the emergency room with no answers on what was wrong, upset about that interaction, frustrated about my treatment, scared about what was wrong, scared about what the future was bringing, and so many other emotions. All I could think was “why on earth did this woman go into the medical field if she didn’t want to help her patients?” Why did she go through school just to treat me like that when I was so clearly upset? I would almost rather be sick and scared in bed than ever face another medical professional who treats me like that again. It’s better to be scared and alone than with a so-called professional who blows you off.

I know we have a few pre-med majors here at UNH, and I don’t know how many of you actually plan on pursuing medical school, but if you are reading this and plan to please remember my story. Remember what it was like for you one time that you felt completely humiliated and frustrated. As a medical professional patients should be able to trust you with not only their care but their emotions. And you should listen to them, please, if only for a minute, don’t brush them off; it’s a horrible feeling for a patient.