D O C T O R S, N U R S E S & Respect for All Beings

An article in the NY Times http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/08/opinion/08Brown.html?_r=1&emc=eta1 by a nurse Theresa Brown was deeply disturbing to me. 

As a nurse Ms. Brown observed situations in which physicians have blamed  nurses for a whole host of medical or interpersonal problems and, in general, demeaned their professionalism.

Nurses, as I see it, deserve the utmost respect for what they do.  Their practical knowledge helped me through my early years of training as well as in private practice.  Their compassionate commitment to the well-being of their patients consistently puts many of my medical colleagues to shame.

I am reminded of my own medical education and the frequent attempts of senior residents or even attending physicians to demean the knowledge or ability of medical students who were, by definition, less knowledgeable and more vulnerable than themselves.  In fact early on in my training I rejected the attitude of surgical residents as bullying and condescending and found the internal medicine residents more collegial and considerate.  My choice of a career path was, therefore, internal medicine and later gastroenterology.

I have always found such attidues particularly obnoxious and despicable and was particularly outspoken when it was directed towards me.  I am by nature a rather easy going individual, but nothing inspired my ire more than being talked "down to".  I believe my reaction often surprised those senior physicians who were used to getting away with it. 

I have always regarded every human being I meet as worthy of respect…..until proved otherwise.  It seems an inherent and obvious truth that this should be the way we treat each other.  The Golden Rule often stated but often breached seems to me to be the basis of all human interaction.

Unfortunately it is not adhered to as it should.  I have noticed that physicians from other cultures and countries (southeast Asia, Eastern Europe) tend to be particularly fond of deriding those they consider below them intellectually or socially.  Perhaps this is a cultural phenomenon. Still, there is no reasonable excuse for any of it.

I would like to make it clear that I am quite capable of disliking individuals whose words or deeds I find obnoxious, hurtful or hateful.  But that is stictly based on my reaction to them as an individual.  I try never to prejudge anyone beforehand.

So I regret nurse Brown's personal experiences with doctors.  They call into question the professionalism and humanity of the physician (or any human being) who would act in such a manner.

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