Starving Dietitian

At What Cost

I love working in the hospital, don’t get me wrong. But the state of healthcare is a shadow of what it could be.

Every day I wake up and think how the world around me is changing. Fitness trackers, calorie trackers, solar cars, GPS for bikes, I’m not even touching on the top 5 innovations for 2014 and it’s already incredible. Healthcare sadly can’t be spoken in the same paragraph!

I’ve read of FitBit’s used as movement monitors to reduce pressure ulcers, iPhones used as Blood Glucose monitors for teens, and still I feel like I’m 10 years behind with the technology I can use at work.

So often, my ideas of 21st century healthcare are met with questions of “At what cost?”

What cost to the facility, the corporation, the bottom line.

At what cost is a patient who dies of a pressure ulcer easily treated with proper nutrition? That is what we should be asking (without any regard for finances).

I’ve attended countless meetings trying to figure out where healthcare went wrong… how we can get back to what really matters, the patient care. I can tell you I’ve become all too familiar with the phrase “We lost sight of the mission”.

Healthcare has lost sight of the patients, while trying to unify care across the country.

Without a doubt, the nutritional adequacy of hospital diets has improved. The consistency of nursing care has improved as well, but mostly at the expense of what healthcare professionals actually want to focus on, patient satisfaction.

I read an op-ed recently on how jobs that benefit society are consistently paid less than jobs that are burdensome if not useless to society. The thinking goes, if somebody “feels good” improving the lives of others, making a difference in the world, etc. Then that job is more in demand, and doesn’t need to pay as well.

The problem is, few healthcare practitioners get to experience this anymore. See, we dive into healthcare thinking we can make a difference, and are met with ridiculous standards that require us to chart on often unnecessary things. This in turn leaves us with too little time to visit with patients, the reason we are getting paid less.

What does this create? Overworked, underpaid, overstressed clinicians. Not the best situation when trying to emphasize patience for patients.

Ask any Nurse, Dietitian, or Pharmacist off the record and you’ll hear sparks of “Upper Management lost sight”.

I think my biggest fear for healthcare professionals, myself included, is that the people who really, truly, want to make a difference will be chased off, by means of politics or red-tape. And all that will be left will be the people who went into the profession for reasons other than the patients.

For once, hopefully I’m wrong.

Be good to each other.

– Joshua Iufer, RD

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