When you or a loved one need medical care, the health care providers and hospital staff you turn to for help can become your lifelines. That’s why so many people remember the names of the nurses who were in the delivery rooms when their children were born and can recite the habits and mannerisms of the providers who care for them during times of illness. Health care professionals may just be doing their jobs, but they are a part of some of our most deeply human experiences.
Working with doctors and medical staff can be tough, though. You or your loved ones might feel embarrassed or exposed when interacting with medical professionals, and needing acute medical care can be very overwhelming. As a caregiver, you can make it a little easier on yourself and loved ones who are dealing with a chronic illness. Here are a few tips for developing a great working relationship with medical staff.
Identify a Point Person
Caregiving is often a team effort, but it helps to designate one consistent spokesperson to keep track of medical information and interact with providers. This helps to prevent repetition and can foster deeper understanding over time, especially if someone with specialized skills or knowledge about health care can take on the role. Whenever someone in my family is sick, my dad is the point person for connecting with providers; he’s learned a lot about medicine in the course of his work, and that helps him interpret what doctors are saying.
Plan Your Questions in Advance
I know that whenever I actually have my doctors in front of me, all the little nagging questions I’ve had for them fly right out of my mind. It’s helpful to keep a running list of questions for each provider because it often makes office visits more productive and efficient. This is especially important in a hospital setting, when providers are likely to be extra busy.
It’s hard to remember new information, especially if you’re stressed out. Write down any instructions from providers, or even ask them for permission to record your conversations. This will help you digest the information slowly and comfortably, with the support you need. This is also a great trick for managing prescription questions.
Remember You Can’t Shock Them
Medical professionals have seen everything. There’s no reason to worry that you or your loved one will shock your health care providers — there are no questions too strange or symptoms too upsetting for a caring doctor or nurse. It’s always better to be open and honest with providers, so that they can make well-informed decisions about care. Always reassure the patient that they don’t have to worry about what their doctors think of them.
Acknowledge Their Hard Work
If providers are doing a great job, let them know you appreciate them. Nurses, doctors, and other medical staff are often on their feet for long hours with few breaks, and on top of their work duties, they carry a lot of worry and emotional strain for the patients and families they care for. Showing that you see their efforts and you value their work is a heartfelt way to say “thank you” each and every day.