You don’t buy me flowers

Posted on September 13, 2007. Filed under: Did I say that? |

One of my colleagues is regularly described by patients as “lovely” and “ever so nice”.  In fact she probably is. I sometimes hear her in the corridor: “Oh hello, it is lovely to see you!”

If she is seeing a woman who has bought her children with her, she’ll ask them what their names are.  I even saw her holding a childs hand as she met them from the waiting room. It’s all so “lovely”.

Her patients send her flowers and cards.

View Online ExclusivesI’m not on commission, they’re just good flowers.

MINE DON’T. Sure I’m not soooo sweet, but I do have my regulars, patients that actually ask to see me.  Even a couple that won’t see anyone else. Two I can think of that actually think I saved their lives.  So, why do I never get as much as a card?  Is it because if I went to the waiting room and offered to hold a young girls hand I’d get funny looks? Is it a boy thing?

Well they could always buy me other types of flowers…


I don’t think it’s a bad thing, I’m just not sooo “lovely”.  I do joke with my patients, but I also tell them that if they don’t stop smoking they are going to loose ten years off their life, that in real terms is ten years of their grandchildrens lives that they will unneccessarily miss.  I think I know how to make a point that is relevant, rather than just a nag

I think (and it is just my humble opinion) that us health care workers have a responsibility not to always be nice to our patients. I have often said to patients that having a consultation with me is sometimes a wake up call, and the next wake up call might be them coughing up blood or having a heart attack.   OK so I’m not “lovely”, but I’m more “lovely” than sitting in the back of an ambulance.


Let’s face it:  If we don’t tell our patients – who is going to?  We know they ignore family and friends as “nagging”.

Perhaps I’ll try being “nice”, it might be good for me!  But I’m not going to be “lovely”, because I’ll be the one that tells you – your overweight or that you are addicted to sleeping tablets, or that you drink and smoke too much and are going to cut your life short because of it, but it is lovely to see you (while your still alive).

I actually wrote this a week ago, and since then have recieved 2 presents – amazing.  The first was chocolate, always a good call. Second was a kidney stone, so my diagnosis the week before was right, but a phone call would have done!


I’ve just started a facebook group, for nurse bloggers….well anyone interested in nurse blogging really, so pop by and help get the place running.  It’s a Nurse Blogging Lounge.

AND HOW EXCITING…A list of the top Nursing blogs has been published.  Obviously the big hitters like Kim’s Emergiblog are in the top spots….but little old Max squeezed into the top 25….


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8 Responses to “You don’t buy me flowers”

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Umm, be careful what you wish for… (as the kidney stone demonstrated) 🙂

[…] but he rarely gets called “lovely” and no one brings him flowers. Find out why in You Don’t Buy Me Flowers at It Shouldn’t Happen in Health Care. While you are there, check out his Nurse Bloggers […]

Yeah well, maybe I should buy chocolate for my cardiologist who told me that I was fat on my 50th birthday. Maybe he could use the calories.

a little bit of blunt truth does seem to help (some) patients face reality, i agree. ya gotta be careful with the people you chose to be frank with, because frankly on some folks it just backfires. sometimes i’ve had family or friends thank me for reiterating what they know their loved one needs to hear, which is often something they’ve been trying to tell them but it has been ignored. i think more than chocolates or flowers, as a nurse it’s just nice to know that someone has appreciated you individually. i’d like to think i give thoughtful, clinically expert care…if one were to measure that in ‘gifts’ over the past 4 years that would add up to 5 personally written cards addressed to me, and loads of candy/food devoted to the entire unit.

what bothers me about the absence of appreciation from patients is that some days, you might not hear a single ‘thank-you’ for the most intimate or laborious of tasks the entire day… and then on your way home you run some errands and hear people saying ‘thank you’ for seemingly much less personal things, such as holding open a door or handing someone a bag full of groceries.

nobody becomes a nurse for ‘commission’–but it is nice to know that you’ve made a difference for someone, and in some small way, that it is appreciated.

Your story reminds me of my first cardiac arrest patient when I was in my first year of nursing (hospital based training 1975). I did the old CPR etc thing. Later on she gave me 3 packets of export cigarettes. Beat that!

[…] consider yourself lucky). I’ll let you decide on the punctuation.  Now I know this has been discussed recently,  but after last week I just need to get it off my […]

You are so right to do that. If you don’t …WHO will?

I often give the docs/nurses/office staff thank you notes/letters/food. Not as much when working though as life can sometimes be like a hamster wheel.

I REALLY like what you said about missing 10 years of their grand children’s lives. That brings it home!

Er Doc from Whitecoat Rants blog recently posted about how he uses reverse psychology on smokers.

[…] despite feeling unloved and under appreciated by my patients in general, (exhibit a), one of my patients has just had a baby, and given it the same name as […]

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