Professional vs. Brutal (Who Would Win?)

As a hospital nurse, I educate patients to take their “medications as directed” and tell them why and common side effects, etc. Plus at discharge, nurses address lifestyle choices on the surface level and send patients out the door, hoping for the best and hoping the primary care offices can take over from there. We say what we are supposed to say and make sure patients and families understand all the instructions. But, has anyone ever tested whether brutal, frank, coarse honesty works even better? I bet that hasn’t been tested. Too risky. Hurts feelings. No one would consent.

Okay, but I’m using my imagination because it’s my blog.

For instance, instead of saying,” you must taper your prednisone as instructed or you can potentially experience weakness, fatigue and gastric upset,” we say, “if you don’t taper the steroid, you’ll feel like shit.” Which would actually work better? Instead of saying “you must quit smoking because it increases your risk of heart and lung disease,” we say, “if you don’t quit, we’ll be booking you a hospital bed in six months for a complication your bank account can’t cover.” Hmmm, might it be food for thought? Might it have planted a bigger, faster seed toward change? How about for alcoholics, instead of handing off the list of resources and keeping our fingers crossed that something might work, we say, “if this doesn’t end, you will eventually need a new liver, but you won’t qualify for one so better plan on turning yellow and having a beach ball abdomen we have to drain fluid from.” Hmmmm, again, totally inappropriate, but would it work?

Now, to be brutally honest with myself, I wouldn’t be the best person to deliver frank statements. My compassion and gentleness are gifts that thankfully surface while I’m working. Sometimes, though, I wonder if my smile and gentle nudges make a difference. Well, if they don’t, at least my prayers might. And with that, God please bless my patients, they know not what they do. (LOL, just kidding, sometimes).