The Danger of Medical Professionals Not Practicing What They Preach

It is not as if smoking is a crime, unless, that is, you are a minor. Even so, it is not as if anyone is going to lock you up. Still, the modern message about smoking is that it is definitely dangerous, and a societal taboo. As strong as those messages are, they are undermined every time a school kid sees a teacher smoking behind the gym, and their favorite actor or actress lighting up on camera.

But the real death knell to the anti-coffin nail message is when real doctors in real life are seen in a hospital’s designated smoking areas, filling their own lungs with deadly carcinogens. Calling it a mixed message is a laughable understatement. Even adults are confused by it.

Worldwide, the percentage of healthcare workers who smoke is reportedly greater than the general population. This is especially true in developing countries. Education seems to be one of the key indicators of whether or not a person will be a smoker.

In the U.S., two-thirds of smokers have a GED or less. The smoking rate drops precipitously as the education level rises. One would think that medical schools would represent the very highest in academic achievement. But clearly, not all medical schools around the world are created equally.

While many schools only seem to focus on gaining medical knowledge, Gwynedd Mercy University includes a moral and spiritual component in their nursing program that effects how graduates live their lives after completion. According to their mission statement:

We do more than educate minds, we help students to transform themselves as they uncover the possibilities before and within them.

Would you take the advice of an out-of-shape fitness trainer?

Do you ever wonder why all ads for gyms and fitness centers only show people who look like they don’t need the workout? You only see perfect people promoting fitness. Likewise, you only see personal trainers who look like they were carved from the stones of Mount. Olympus.

That is because the product is not just a hard, sweaty, painful workout. The real product is the dream of looking like they do. No matter how proficient

your personal trainer was it his job, you wouldn’t feel inspired to take the advice from someone whose physique was of the type you hope to avoid. That is why this ABC News report is so problematic, Study Finds 55 Percent of Nurses Are Overweight or Obese.

The study, which measured obesity using estimates of body mass index, found that nursing schedules affected not only the health of the nurses but the quality of patient care.

“Health care professionals are often involved in providing advice or care to patients that relates to things that aren’t totally under control in their own lives…”

Patient care is effected, not just because of the appearance of hypocrisy, but because the failure of the healthcare provider to take their own advice makes the advice seem impractical, if not impossible. It also makes the advice, itself, seem questionable. “After all” the patient might quip, “look how well it has worked out for you.”

Like it or not, healthcare workers are role models

What do Lance Armstrong, Manti Te’o, and Charles Barkley have in common? They are all great athletes and terrible role models. The debate about whether or not athletes should be considered role models rages on. When it comes to healthcare workers, it is an open and shut case. Like it or not, healthcare workers are role models.

In the hit TV show, House, the protagonist was portrayed as a brilliant diagnostician who was hopelessly addicted to Vicodin. This may have been an interesting storyline had it shown how drugs harmed his ability to function. Unfortunately, the message was just the opposite. He was useless when he tried to break the addiction. He was only at the top of his game when he was abusing the substance.

That show represented some of the best writing on television. But the message was that drugs are okay when they enhance your performance. Who could argue with America’s favorite doctor?

The message is even more deadly in real life. Like our parents when we are children, we come to respect our doctors and nurses because of the many years of expertise they have in their field. Their advice literally keeps us alive.

One bad piece of advice, or a bad prescription could kill us. We have to trust them.

When we see them engaging in the kinds of activities they are advising us against, that can’t help but have a negative effect on us. Doctors who tell us to avoid fast food at all cost should not be seen having lunch at the same burger joint they just declared deadly.

Perhaps the greatest danger is that if we stop trusting science-based healthcare as presented by our healthcare providers, we will not grow as a society.

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