April 17th, 2017. In one week, my freshman year of college will be over. I still can’t believe how quickly time flies by during college. If I could tell myself one thing before beginning my first semester of college, I would tell myself it’s okay to fail. I remember failing my first nursing midterm by 1 point and then proceeding to call my parents crying, scared out of my mind that I was going to fail out of nursing school. I doubted myself, and I thought I wasn’t cut out to be a nurse. I would have wanted my younger self to know that failure is part of learning. Yes, there was a lot of pressure put onto me to pass the final exam and thus pass the class, but during a tear-filled facetime call with my parents, my mother told me, “Pressure makes diamonds. You can do this.”
Freshman year is only the beginning, and I have a big 3 years lined up in front of me. Nursing school isn’t going to be easy, but nothing is going to prevent me from reaching my goal of becoming a nurse. I love to take care of people and make personable connections, and nursing allows me to do just that. So bring on the 3 hour pathophysiology lectures that start at 8:30 AM and memorizing hundreds of drugs for pharmacology. I know I can withstand the pressure and come out of the situation stronger, more confident, and even a little wiser.
Dr. Vercler provided an astounding knowledge of the historical aspect of ethics, but he also discussed modern day ethics. His question of whether a health care professional should be able to refuse to give a medical treatment or perform a procedure for a patient really got me thinking, because I can see both sides of the debate. Patients shoulder definitely be able to receive the procedures and treatments they seek, or not receive treatments they do not want, as long as they are fully aware of the risks associated with the treatment (or lack thereof) and are able to consider these risks before deciding to pursue treatment. But ultimately, I think it is completely acceptable for a health care provider to refuse to give a treatment or perform a procedure on a patient, but for certain reasons.
For example, a health care provider may not want to perform a procedure that would inevitably be detrimental to a patient’s health. The health care provider may not want to have the guilt or responsibility of harming the patient on their shoulders. Health care providers should also be able to refuse to perform procedures if the patient is not in a coherent and able state of mind to make rational decisions. Or a health professional may not think the patient is ready or old enough for certain irreversible procedures, like in so many cases of transgender children. Health care professionals are looked to for guidance and help, and it can definitely be frustrating to be refused treatment, but health care professionals have received years of training and schooling in order to use their best judgement, although not everyone will always agree with their decisions.
Dr. Vercler’s talk really made me think about my future as a health care provider. As a future nurse, I will be interacting with patients very frequently, and I will have to learn how to keep my personal views and opinions separate from my clinical judgements because at the end of the day, the ultimate goal is to give the patient as much information about risks and benefits of certain procedures to allow them to make autonomous decisions.
As I sit here typing this blog post, I can’t believe that in a few days, my first semester of college will be over. I definitely think I have learned how to be more resilient this semester and to stop comparing myself to others. In high school, I was always curious to see how well I was doing compared to my classmates, but now, I’m better at only looking for improvement in solely myself. I also think I’ve grown by getting more professional experience this semester. I learned about professional image of a nurse in my Nursing 122 class, and observing health professionals helped me to see what its actually like to be in the health are field. I’m most proud of remaining true to myself and keeping my priorities straight while trying to adjust being away from my parents for the first time.
Next semester, I need to work on making more time for things I enjoy. I even wrote that in my letter to myself earlier this year. I have always loved to sing and since coming to college, I haven’t been able to join a singing group on campus but I want to attempt to join a group next semester. I learned from the PAs that prioritizing something I love is going to make me happier in the long run than solely focusing all my time and energy on working toward my career. I’m overall very pleased that what I prioritized at the beginning of the year, I still prioritize, like keeping a close bond with my parents and going to church on Sundays. Overall, Semester 1 has been a challenge, but I can’t wait to see what next semester will hold.
Unconscious bias plays a big role in health care disparities, and it can greatly impact patients needing care. However, the LGBTQ community suffers the most when it comes to unconscious bias affecting health care. The most surprising thing I learned from this week’s lecture is that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) actually used to categorize homosexuality as a mental disease. It shocks me to think that a person’s sexual orientation could be thought of as an indication of or a type of mental disease just because the concept did not fit with what may have been the majority mindset or opinion at the time. I was also shocked to learn that there were even forms of therapy available meant to “treat” homosexuality, including electric shock therapy, meant to make the patient feel pain whenever they thought of homosexual desires. Conversion therapy even still exists and is legal today in the United states.
People in the LGBTQ community already face discrimination and prejudice on an everyday basis from people who think their sexual orientation is “wrong.” Unconscious bias furthermore makes their lives more difficult by causing disparities when it comes to LGBTQ receiving health care. Many are forced to wait longer than their heterosexual counterparts and receive lower quality care because their concerns are often dismissed or mistreated by healthcare professionals.
So what causes these unconscious biases? I think answering this question would be the first step in finding ways to reduce unconscious biases and disparities in LGBTQ healthcare. I also think that because this question has still remained unanswered, it has been extremely difficult to improve LGBTQ health care. What can be done to make sure that all people receive equal, fair, high quality health care?