In these trying times, we need to spread positivity to all we meet. In the medical setting, words are used in verbal communication and written documentation. As such, we need to think about the words we choose in our daily lives while working with patients, employers and even when encountering the general public outside the office.
Based on an article from the AMT Pulse, Fall 2020.
Janet Sesser, RMA (AMT) MS (HealthEd)
Like most people, I was a child when I first heard the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” As an adult, I wondered where this saying originated, and my research took me to the March 1862 issue of The Christian Recorder.
It is believed that this saying was first published as a nursery rhyme in the publication. (Worth mentioning: The Christian Recorder is the country’s oldest existing African American-published periodical, predating the Civil War.) As kids, we thought this saying suggested that we need to ignore those who choose to call us names or pick on us. As an adult, this has taken on a different meaning for me. Words can create or destroy. They are powerful and may seriously hurt us—not just emotionally, but the impact of some words may lead to indefensible situations, especially in the healthcare field.
In the medical setting, words are used in verbal communication and written documentation. As such, we need to think about the words we choose in our daily lives while working with patients, employers and even when encountering the general public outside the office.
We know we encounter difficult patients from time to time. However, as medical professionals, we must perform our duties without prejudice or bias when assisting all patients. During this unprecedented time of uncertainty, isolation and despair, we need to keep in mind that we are there to assist and support. For months, news reports have not been encouraging for the American people. Yet, we need to be the courageous ones who will build up and not tear down each other through our choice of words. We need to continue to establish a good rapport with patients and families, creating a caring environment. We cannot misinform patients, make unsupported promises or blow off a patient’s concern for their overall health.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken an emotional toll on many who worry about contracting the virus, spreading it to others and becoming unable to work and support a family because of the illness. Each person deals with their fear and worries in different ways. It is our job to listen and provide comforting words. Never minimize a patient’s thoughts; those thoughts are reality to them.
I teach my medical assistant students a saying: “Do a simple deed of kindness; though its end you may not see, it will reach like widening ripples, even to eternity.” These words remind me that we need to pass on kindness to all we meet in our everyday lives. We never know when we will say just the right words to help someone during their time of difficulty.