Few life-threatening or terminal diseases present themselves in otherwise healthy, alert, and charming hosts the way cancer does.
From the get-go, oncologists are not only captain of the ship; they hoist life preservers in the form of treatment to patients drowning in waves of shock after a cancer diagnosis.
In my opinion, oncologists’ hearts closely resemble those of nurses. This is attributed to the fact that although oncologists do not spend the same quantity of time with patients as nurses do, the quality of the time they spend is intense. They often form relationships with patients over years. It’s common for an oncologist to know close members of their patient’s family, also like nurses.
During my last episode of possible (it wasn’t) recurrence, I experienced this truth.
My oncologist and I share a professional relationship. One of the reasons he’s my oncologist is because I know he’s good at what he does. My husband likes him, too. They share an easy communication, which is another reason for my choice. If/when cancer recurs, I know they will cooperate on my care, freeing me to be the patient, not the nurse. This arrangement brings me peace of mind.
Anyway, I had suspicious symptoms, which landed me face down in an MRI. My appointment to receive the MRI results was scheduled at end of a workday for my oncologist.
David accompanied me. Dr. My Choice entered the exam room holding the films, clipping them to the light box.
“I haven’t looked at these yet,” he explained. “I thought we could see them at the same time.”
It hit me in a flash: Dr. My Choice likes us too. He is about to find out if he will tell a nurse he enjoys working with, and her husband, whether or not her cancer has recurred.
Snap! What have I done to him?
Fortunately, the films revealed I am still cancer free. The look of relief on Dr. My Choice’s face nearly equaled David’s.
Oncologists, (doctors) have feelings, too. This knowledge affects the professional relationships of nursing practice in the following ways:
- When questioning an order, assume the doctor has good intentions toward his or her patient, same as you.
- Avoid framing questions to a doctor with your personal inferences, such as opinions of whether or not the physician is “good” or “bad.”
- Consider that doctors suffer from work overload, and burn out, as do nurses.
- Remember: Being part of a team is catching one another when we fall. No one is on top of his or her game every time.
- Protect the Rock Star Doctor (every unit has one) by double-checking their orders the same as you do for any other physician. Don’t let them fall to earth because you were not diligent in providing a safety net for their patients.
Education is the tool of our trade. It is our demeanor, which makes us professionals.