The Customer is NEVER Right - A Nurse Practitioner's Perspective
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Healthcare is like NO other industry

Healthcare is not the entertainment industry, the hospitality industry, the food and beverage industry, retail or any other industry. Instead, healthcare is a time-honored profession trusted with saving lives and stomping out disease and must NEVER be cheapened to being a service or performance of any kind. And much less at the cost of so much. So, if like NO other industry then why is healthcare compared to others?
The following are a few examples as to how healthcare is unique and like NO other industry.

For me the most significant difference between healthcare and other industries is that healthcare is the ONLY industry genuinely dedicated to helping others. However, because some disagree lets not chalk that as a fact but instead only as my bias opinion. As some have pointed out that there other industries that help others as well, like lawyers. And I can see how others would point to lawyers as helping others. Except there is a lawyer on the other side against you and that is the reason you need a lawyer. On the contrary, in healthcare there is no one EVER against you on either side.
Some will say teachers help others. And so do police officers. And so do bankers and yada yada yada. However with that loose application of the meaning of helping others than it could be said the cashier at Walmart helps others too.

Now, before going any further and before being pounced on by critics, know that I hold teachers with very high regard as theirs is a job I would not want to have and why when I see a teacher as a patient I always bow and say to them that I am not worthy of the work they do. I genuinely mean that--but I digress.

Here is the uniqueness to which I believe all will agree healthcare is the only industry genuinely dedicated to helping others. Healthcare is the only industry where services are sought during some of the worse moments of our lives and during inconvenient times, for uncertain, unpredictable and volatile choices in places that are unknown, unpleasant and unforgiving. No other industry can make that claim, NONE. Actually, if any of the other industries had to manage any ONE of those listed challenges in their realms it is very likely they would not succeed as any one of those circumstances can be overwhelming for many. Yet that is what we do in healthcare, manage all of those listed, and we are very good at making others better despite those challenges.

And if we fail and the patient dies very few times, like very few times considering the number of times we manage those cases, are we held responsible by family for that devastating outcome. If anything, most family are appreciative for our efforts in trying to return life to their loved ones and/or keeping them comfortable during their last moments, even when we fail to keep them alive. NO other industry can make that claim, NONE.

That is where teachers, lawyers, bankers, cashiers, and others, as an industry, fall short in healthcare’s genuine desire to help others.

Sure, police officers help others during some of their worse moments as well. Except, police officers help the good guys but not so much help the bad guys. And that is a difference with healthcare as well. In 2013, an article in the Boston Globe highlighted this uniqueness of healthcare by quoting a nurse who said, “I did it because I’m a nurse and I don’t get to pick and choose my patients.” Those words from one of the nurses who cared for the surviving Boston marathon terrorist to explain how duty, that of helping others, comes before bias and prejudices or what others might think of us. Why? Because in healthcare, unlike other industries, “No shirt. No shoes. No service,” does not apply. We do not get to pick our patients—the good, the bad, the ugly. We help all.
Here is an indisputable fact of healthcare, healthcare is the ONLY industry with patients and no other industry can make that claim. That being the case then why not embrace the fact that in that sense healthcare is unique? But instead, in wanting to be like others, I guess, healthcare has decided to consider patients customer, clients, and guest as if the uniqueness of being the only industry with patients wasn’t worthy enough. Sadly, some have even gone out of the way to diminish that uniqueness, of calling the ill and injured patients, as they rather consider patients customers, clients, or guest. As if patients were staying at a resort, purchasing shoes, having their hair done or any plethora of other industry services. As if the ill and injured are stigmatized by being called patients.

Another distinctiveness of healthcare, healthcare is the only industry where regardless of disposable income or time services are sought after. Most significant about that fact is that those services are rendered every time and continued until patients are stable enough to care for self regardless their ability to pay. No other industry can make that claim, NONE.

More exceptionality to healthcare. Although, I must admit, not a favorite because of its time consuming effort. Having said that, I value the worth of such scrutiny that makes healthcare the only industry where workers are vetted extensively before trusted with doing our jobs despite we attend accredited schools, are finger-printed, are re-certified at least every year for one thing or another, and undergo re-credentialing at least biyearly to ensure we did not commit some wrong doing our employer was not aware of. If other industries had such scrutiny of their employees very few of those industries would survive the cost and the high rate of turnover of those who would fail such scrutiny.

Another exclusivity of healthcare, healthcare is the only industry whose workers maintain the public’s confidence year after year as the public has recognized us as the most honest profession and with the greatest ethical standard of any industry. That is not a fluke either as that distinguished recognition has been for 17 of the last 18 consecutive years. In 2015, healthcare was followed by other industries in that recognition in the following order, from most to least recognized, high school teachers were the closest at a staggering 13 points behind healthcare, then the list continued with police officers, clergy, funeral directors, accountants, journalist, bankers, building contractors, lawyers—those I am told most commonly as helping others, real estate agents, labor union leaders, business executives, stockbrokers, advertising practitioners, car salespeople, telemarketers, members of congress, and lastly by lobbyists. All in all, an astounding 63 points separating the highest and lowest rankings.

With that said, why then if VETTED so extensively and the public holds us with such high regard are we compared to other industries?

All of that aside, the most significant difference between healthcare and other industries is that healthcare is the ONLY industry where workers go to battle for every so-called “customer” and when so-called “customers” succumb we cry for them as well. I know of no industry where employees take the lost of their customers so personal but I could be wrong.

So, if unique in so many ways, why then is healthcare compared to other?

My two sense [sic]. Healthcare, be yourself because when you wear the mask of others long enough you begin to forget who you are beneath it.

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