Written by Janie Charlot FNP-C
Just a few years back as I was leaving work one evening from a hospital, I could not help but to observe several people in the designated smoking area. Half of those people were hospital staff, and the other half were visitors and patients. At that moment I began to think about my purpose for promoting a life of good health. I knew it was my job to teach healthy habits to others, but at that moment I realized I needed to illustrate a life of healthy habits as well. It wasn’t just enough for me to be able to teach others, I needed to be able to put it into practice too!
Although we may be doctors, nurses, therapist, nutritionist, etc.; We are still subject to the same temptations of smoking, alcohol, caffeine, over-eating, stress, drug use, and the ins and outs of life. When I walked out of the hospital that day, it occurred to me: What would I have thought as a patient if I had seen my Healthcare Provider lighting up another one in the designated smoking area? It is definitely something to think about. Are we reflecting the picture of health in ourselves that we expect out of our patients? Can patients really trust what we are saying about nutrition and heart disease if we are severely overweight and smokers ourselves?
I don’t have any statistical data to rattle off (although studies are out there), but being in the healthcare industry for many years, I can tell you that as healthcare providers we have to practice what we preach. I use WE, because it applies to me and all those delivering healthcare in some fashion to the public.
Here’s what I have found that may hinder healthcare providers from portraying the look of perfect health to their patients:
High Stress Positions
Outside demands such as low customer service scores, high patient volume, low reimbursement from insurance companies, staffing & workflow issues, no paid time off, & outside competition often place stress on healthcare providers.
Feelings that the same statistics and guidelines don’t apply to them
Many healthcare providers do not have a PCP (Primary Care Provider) themselves. Therefore, many national screening guidelines such as yearly physicals, cholesterol checks, blood sugars, mammograms, etc. are going undone by healthcare providers. Consequently, chronic diseases can easily set in.
Lack of Balanced Life
Healthcare providers often spends a great deal of time caring for their patients, families, and communities that they fail to maintain a healthy lifestyle for themselves. Easy to pick up food or even office deliveries lead to eating unhealthy and over-indulging. Long work hours can hinder time dedicated for exercise.
With more and more people having access to care and choosing to visit their healthcare providers more often, we have to be able to practice what we preach! We want our patients to be able to trust us and that requires preaching and practicing the part!