Taking Care of Sick People Is A Very Hard Job And This Is How It Can Change You, For Good or Bad or Ugly

The greatest life lessons I learn are all at the bedside of sick and dying people. 
Ante Samarzija | Unsplash

I have met, interacted, and worked with all sorts of healthcare professionals over the years—doctors, nurses, pharmacists, medical laboratory scientists, physiotherapists, you name it, and I have discovered that healthcare professionals generally fall under two major categories.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

The first category houses the largest percentage of healthcare professionals; those who are in it because of the money, the economic advantage, the prestige, and the social identification associated with being a healthcare professional, especially with being a nurse or a doctor. 

You’ll find plenty of them in this category. 

To them, it’s just another career, an avenue out of economic hardship, and an opportunity to fill their bank accounts and feed their families. These are good, natural, and reasonable reasons.

Anyone can study medicine or nursing, or become a pharmacist, or a medical laboratory scientist if they are dedicated enough. 

Anyone can become anything in life if they want to. 

There’s no special genetic element or code that makes a certain group of people or a race more intelligent or better at anything, especially when it has got to do with brain and mind work or creativity. 

Any human being on earth can learn anything. 

Whether it’s building rockets, writing codes, opening brains, or constructing dams. 

What is needed is access to the right knowledge, teachers, an enabling environment, and solid mentorship.

The second category, and the one that has very few healthcare professionals in it, are those who possess a heart for taking care of people—a genuine heart for it. 

And when you meet them, you will know. 

They are different. In their approach, in the way they interact with both colleagues and patients. 

It’s just obvious. Even the blind can see it.

Yes, they know that being in healthcare can afford them some financial grace and give them some social recognition, but they look beyond all that, and their primary interest is how best they can help those they care for.

You know, in healthcare, there can come a time when you become carried away with the money, especially in developed countries that invest heavily in healthcare. 

It’s easy to get distracted from the best part of it and pin your focus on the good side—the money-making angle.

One thing some of us healthcare professionals fail to take note of is that patients and clients can perceive what you are the moment they start interacting with you [you can only pretend for a while—it oozes out, most of the time, subtly, without you even noticing]. 

They know when a nurse or doctor genuinely cares about them. They know those who are in it just for the money and other perks associated with being a healthcare professional. 

And when they detect it, they will naturally withdraw. Many of them will find it difficult to open up to you, and this will impact the care process.

You see, lately, healthcare is becoming more of a business. 

The business aspect of healthcare is swallowing up the part of compassion, which is the most important aspect of it. 

And clients and patients know it. 

They know, and they also become “rigid” when interacting with healthcare professionals—”besides, we are paying you” becomes their mantra.

It shouldn’t be like this, but unfortunately, it is. 

And we may not be able to salvage the situation because a lot of people do not understand what healthcare is all about. 

They see it as just a profession. 

So, they read all that they can read, qualify to become whatever they can become, and start practicing in whatever capacity their education permits. 

Only a few of them really discover the spirit of care. I mean, very very few. 

And with the way the world is going, people no longer find love and fulfillment in the things they do.

People are becoming emotionally empty because of all the things happening today.

People come to work with their burdens. How do you want them to show love when their love banks are empty?

This is what makes any healthcare profession difficult, especially the one that deals directly with patient care, like nursing and medicine.

You must keep your suffering within you and attend to the sufferings of others. 

You are there to help them, they are not there to help you. 

They look to you for care and help and not the other way round. 

They lie before you, vulnerable, helpless, and hungry.

Imagine a patient who opens up himself or herself to the knife of a surgeon to be cut open. 

Or to the injections and anesthesia to be put to sleep or the post-operative care of the nurses, totally believing and hoping. 

That’s trust; they trust you—literally with their lives.

That’s a hard job. 

You keep your pains and troubles and struggles aside, just to attend to the pains and struggles of others.

You might say, “Yeah, that’s their job… and they are being paid for it…” Yes, they are being paid for it… But we want people taking care of us who look beyond the curtain of being paid to take care of us. 

We want people who actually love and care for us. 

There’s a difference, a big one, between a surgeon, physician, nurse, physiotherapist, or pharmacist, who really, really, really loves what he or she is doing.

Believe me, if we have healthcare professionals who love what they do, we will have very few deaths. 

Yes, we know that medicine has its limits. 

There’s just so much that can be done with medical science. Yet, with the little that we do with science, we can complement it, strengthen it, and we can amplify it with the right spirit.

There are doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals who don’t care a bit for their patients. 

They have either become hardened by the long years of seeing sick and wounded, dying and dead people that they don’t even have any iota of compassion anymore in their souls.

Boy, I have seen them, many of them. 

Nurses, doctors, and surgeons who don’t regard human life. 

You can almost see it in their eyes if you look deeper.

In the way they handle and interact with patients. 

It’s not their fault though. You don’t know what they have been through or what they are currently going through. It’s tough for people, and this is why it’s a hard job.

You can become a monster over the years without even knowing it.

Hard! Hard! Hard!

Sometimes, I wish I hadn’t studied nursing. 

I should have done something else. 

Maybe computer science. Maybe I will be somewhere now, writing codes or dismantling computer systems. However, here I am, and this is the reality that might not change anytime soon.

But I am learning a lot.

“The greatest life lessons I learn are all at the bedside of sick and dying people.

I make sure I am not carried away by “this is just a job.” No, it isn’t just a job. This is a unique gift from God Almighty.

I have seen all sorts of sick folks. 

I have seen sick beggars and poor people. 

I have seen sick, rich, celebrities and big political figures. 

Sickness sort of places man on the same level. 

And death is the great leveler. 

It doesn’t matter how rich or strong or poor or weak you are, there comes a day that you will have to succumb to the strong hands of death.

This is my little advice to my colleagues out there, all over the world.

Watch your heart closely. 

Don’t become hard-hearted as you carry out your duties as a nurse, doctor, surgeon, or whatever you are.

Try to give some allowance to your humanity when doing your job.

Our type of work is the one that requires the greatest dose of humanity. 

We are different from the astronaut, the software guy, and the engineer. They also have their own uniqueness, and they are special in their way. 

Ours just seems to be the “lowest and highest” job.

The first person you ever saw when you came into the world must have probably been a healthcare professional [maybe a midwife, or a nurse or doctor]. That is if you were born into the world normally [you didn’t fall from the sky or were delivered by wolves].

And the last person or people you will probably see when leaving this world may definitely be a healthcare professional(s).

So, we are pretty important in the life cycle of people.

You Will Need Help, Someday! 

Surgeon operating
Photo by JC Gellidon on Unsplash

How do you want to be treated when you one day fall ill or need help? 

You are not “Clark Kent” or “Homelander.” 

A day will come when you will need one form of medical help or the other. And whether you like it or not, you will be attended to by a nurse, a doctor, or some other healthcare professional. 

Don’t you know that life strangely has a way of paying people back with the same coin that they have been using to pay others?

Be nice. You may not be perfectly nice, because you are human, but at least make up your mind to be nice and do the best that you can do for your patient or those you have the privilege to take care of in one form or the other. 

Look beyond the monetary gain. Love what you do.

I know, I know, that we will still have people come into healthcare because of the money.

We will have nurses who want to further their education because they want to earn more money. 

We will have doctors who want to venture into brain surgery because they want to earn more money. 

That’s just natural. There’s absolutely nothing that can be done about it.

We will have people like that. 

Nonetheless, I know that we will still have people who come in here because they want to really help people. 

They will work hard to get to the highest points because they know that the higher they go, the more people they can help. 

They know that the better they become at what they do, the more lives they can save. 

Their motivation has gone beyond just making money; now it’s about making more people happy.

You know, I have been thinking hard about what to give my subscribers, community, and friends this week, and I already had a couple of articles and essays lined up to be edited and published. 

Then this struck me this evening.

The week had been a stressful one.

My nighttime, always filled with thoughts— how to do this and how to do that.

And then, while trying to rest, this thought dropped into my heart.

And I told myself, “This is good stuff; let me share it with my community.” 

And here you have my thoughts, pure and raw.

I hope it helps someone out there.

I hope it helps you to make the right choices. 

To live a better life as a nurse, doctor, pharmacist, physiotherapist, or whatever kind of healthcare professional you are.

And as we become better at what we do, we believe that we will be able to help patients and clients more.

Thank you.


If you have not subscribed to my newsletter on Substack [Unbounded], kindly do so. It’s free. I share a lot of “unofficial” stuff there that I will normally not share here on Care City.

Also, drop us a subscription here on Care City [below] and also on “Care City Weekly,” our Substack where we try to bring to you some of the things we find interesting in the world of leadership, creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation in healthcare.

Uhm, before I let you go [for a while], I happen to be on the team of The National Drug Dosage Calculation Competition for Nurses in Nigeria, and this year’s competition is drawing closer. 

Registrations are ongoing and the prices to be won are like no other you have ever seen. 

You can quickly register here if you are a “student nurse” in Nigeria, and you can learn more about the competition here [we published a detailed article about all you should know here on Care City—we are an official media partner, ‘winks’].

And finally, drop your comments.

I love to see them.

I desperately want to know what you think.

Thank you, and have a wonderful weekend ahead.

Your friend in the school of leadership, innovation, and learning.



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