Back in the day, respect within hospitals was the norm. “Nurses were highly regarded, as were doctors and allied health professionals,” writes Eleanor Holwerda.

Back in the day, respect within hospitals was the norm. “Nurses were highly regarded, as were doctors and allied health professionals,” writes Eleanor Holwerda.

LETTER: Retiring nurse saw ‘terrible increase’ in disrespect

Back in the day, ‘respect within hospitals was the norm’

In 45 years of nursing I have seen a terrible increase in disrespect, bullying, entitlement, and abuse in hospitals.

As a young nurse in the ER I was attacked by a young woman who was high on drugs. Fortunately the paramedics were still there and able to rescue me from her grip. That was shocking as violence in the 1970s was not common. Verbal abuse on occasion stemmed from fear, anger, distress in a situation that those emotions were to be expected – a death, car accident, heart attack. Those perpetrators were often managed with kind words and empathy. They would apologize later.

Respect within hospitals was the norm. Nurses were highly regarded, as were doctors and allied health professionals.

Dr. Google changed things. People now “know” what is wrong, what procedures and medications to use. And the sense of entitlement.

We learn our values in our homes, schools, places of worship. When parents show respect in the home children mimic that even if they don’t understand.

When in school, where conformity was learned, children realize that society works better when we respect each other.

Movies and media have contributed greatly to poor parenting, relaxed education system, and general erosion of societal norms.

My nursing career is over and my life is coming to a close. I can look back with pride that we took care of patients regardless of our own convictions. I’m not sure I could be as generous towards anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, flat-Earth believers during this pandemic where so many have died, suffered, long-haulers and their loved ones. Plus all those who have required life-saving surgeries and treatments who are fully vaccinated, have suffered and died without the beds or staff to care for them.

So having to take care of belligerent, demanding, threatening and abusive patients and their families would cause great moral and ethical distress that I’m not sure I could manage.

Eleanor Holwerda