Day 3 – Bad news

Giving bad news to a patient/family is a difficult, but obviously necessary, task. While I’ll definitely need much more practice to become as comfortable as possible, today made the gears in my head start turning. Word choice is particularly interesting to me, especially the importance of “died/dead” vs. a euphemism and “analysis” vs. “investigation”. I’m not really sure how many opportunities I’ll have to practice this in a simulated environment, but at least I know that I have to be very intentional with my language.

Off the topic of bad news, Sam’s (dad’s) advice was incredibly useful: reevaluate patients from a clear slate at each interaction and if lab/test results are different from predicted. Even though it first seems like a time-consuming process, I’m sure that it’ll be fast and efficient once it becomes routine. Sam also had some great stories of personal experiences when this approach had a noticeable effect, so I’m motivated to commit to it, too.

Lastly, care for the caregiver was not nearly as on my radar as it is now. While I understood that theoretically I could suffer emotionally/mentally from patient harm, it is now clearly a pressing issue for me. I’m aware that I’m not at all good at admitting when I need help/support or being honest and open about my feelings. Luckily, I still have a year to practice and develop these skills before my clinical years, but I’ll have to put together a legitimate, proactive plan to do this. Hopefully I will help my classmates also think about care for the caregiver, as well as being cognizant of care for hospital staff other than physicians and nurses.

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