It’s an attitude, not just a job we do.
We’ve been brainwashed to think this way, to believe that’s what health care is.
That hospital, emergency and long-term care work were the best and safest ways to make a living. That helping sick and hurting people is exactly what the world needs from us.
Veer away from this kind of work and you’d ‘lose your skills’. Stand up against the status quo and people would think you’re nuts. Burnout from harsh realities of nursing and leave the profession altogether.
In 1860, formal nursing education was born because the modern world needed nurses to care for wounded solders. People who would train to become compliant workers in the hospitals of the Crimea War. And for the last one hundred and fifty years, we’ve persuaded more and more people to do the same.
Every year we educate thousands of nurses in the developed world to do the physically and emotionally exhausting downstream work of caring for sick people. But not just nurses. We’ve drilled, trained and reinforced physicians, physiotherapists, social workers, and every other health care professional to do the same.
There will always be sick and injured people.
But in the developed world, people aren’t dying from battle wounds and contaminated water. They’re suffering from mostly preventable problems: emotional traumas, type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, vaccine-preventable infections, and so much more.
From the television shows we grew up with – General Hospital, ER and Grey’s Anatomy, to the billion dollar textbook industry, to big Pharma, and a system rewarding quick fixes to health problems. We’ve all been persuaded to believe this is what health care is. But I don’t believe it.
It’s no wonder we haven’t dedicated enough attention to the strategies of helping people stay healthy. But before we can begin to make change, I think we need to ask ourselves, what is health care for?