Practice what you preach, Doc

By By Tristan Bennett

By Tristan Bennett

Like many students at the U, I am striving for a career in the medical field some day.

However, in my studies and experience I find that in spite of the work and effort that medical professionals put into helping and caring for others, some tend to care very little for their own health and physical activity.

As part of my career goal, I have received training in various situations and areas of medicine.

Recently, while going through a course to become a certified nurse’s assistant — a thankless job where I collected gross things like bodily fluids — I came across a male nurse who helped me learn how to handle real-life situations.

This man, who was by no means at his physical peak, recently had a major heart surgery in which small devices were placed into the arteries around his heart to keep them from being blocked.

He had undergone the surgery before he met with the nursing students and seemed to be pleased that it had happened.

Am I missing something, or did major heart surgery — or any surgery — suddenly become a good thing?

Pulling through a potentially life-threatening surgery is commendable, but needing to be operated on because of your lifestyle should be avoided at all costs.

Personal lifestyle can make a big difference in how someone recovers from health complications (or avoids them altogether), but it seems that even the people who should be aware of this fact don’t care.

I applied for a job in home health care, and I did not see one nurse in the building who seemed to be taking good care of him or herself — and there were a lot of people in that building.

Even my brother-in-law, who is an M.D. doing his residency in St. Louis, Mo., has told me a number of times about how many of his classmates in medical school were smokers.

In light of these examples (and many other cases), it seems that health professionals know how to care for everyone’s health but their own.

I am not saying that smokers or people who have had major heart surgery are bad. But to be learning about the body and about all of the things that can go wrong due to unhealthy lifestyles only to go out and brag about having major surgery or inhale tobacco smoke doesn’t jive.

I know that the male nurse I spoke with had gone through a great deal of training to be where he was, and I saw the way that he would interact with patients. He was good at what he did for a living, but I personally did not find myself wanting to hear him tell his tale of multiple surgeries and problems that were related to how he cared for himself.

It seemed as though in his particular case, he felt that because of his training he was above the advice that would be given to a man in his situation, such as eating healthy and getting regular daily exercise. It is a classic example of “do as I am saying, not as I am doing.”

There seems to be a large amount of downtime in most medical and nursing fields, which leads to staff not being very active. And lack of activity can lead to any number of health complications. Perhaps if those who are seeking future careers in health care would learn to be a little more active in their personal and work lives there would be a little more confidence in American medicine.

I know that people in such fields work very hard. After all, they are my colleagues, relatives and friends. I have nothing but respect, admiration and love for anyone who is willing to pursue such a selfless occupation. But maybe working a little harder and being smarter not only about patient care but personal care would be beneficial for everyone. The best way to show someone how to care for him or herself is by example.