I believe in the power of human touch and its ability to bring different cultures, races and people together as a whole. It was a cloudy afternoon as I entered my floor in the community hospital. A registered nurse called me after I arrived for a simple favor: to fetch a patient some juice. This simple favor would soon become an eye opening experience that changed my perspective on the patient healthcare experience. I made sure to visit this patient for the following month once a week. They were initially admitted for a simple knee surgery with a three day hospital bed recovery period. However, tragedy struck as the knee became severely infected post surgery and forced the patient to stay a little longer. “A little” seems like an understatement as they have been in the same bed for four months to this day and had undergone many more surgeries. Only one visitor ever came and staff do not have the time to sit and chat with them. I entered the room with the juice and they immediately begged me to stay longer with them. I ended up staying two hours just to listen to them talk and that in itself was the best gift they had received since their admittance. Through my time with the patient, I soon began to realize one of the greatest prizes of being a doctor: establishing a strong, trusting relationship with the patient. Understanding the illness, its effect on the patient’s physical and mental state is extremely important, and often overlooked in the medical field. Through my experience caring for patients in the hospital, I have learned that they are stigmatized and often neglected. Patients can quite literally be isolated when their loved ones and health providers neglect caring for them. I have witnessed the power of the human touch first hand and strived to create strong bonds with everyone despite any differences we may share. These bonds are made possible through the universal nature of a simple smile and helping hand.One day, before the patient’s scheduled surgery, the doctor came in discussing the procedure and expectations for the patient. Seeing that the patient would want this time to themselves, I got up to leave, but they grabbed my hand tightly and asked me to stay. As I turned to look at them, they told me, “I knew when I came here it would be rough, but you treated me differently than the others and I feel like an actual person again.”Hospital patients are generally seen as a problem that simply needs to be fixed and not as people. I have realized that my compassion and touch helps alleviate the negative effects of stigma and discrimination. Simply holding their hand when they are in pain or distress can make all the difference. Just as human contact can strengthen the human connection from the doctor to the patient, they also chose to reach out for my hand, proof to me that the power of such an action is real. Although there can be a great divide amongst people, I truly believe the concern, touch and care of another can overcome the barriers of culture, race and people as a whole.
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