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When a Medical Professional Becomes a Patient

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When a medical professional receives hospice care, a unique relationship between them and their team may develop. People with medical backgrounds come with a variety of valuable experience, knowledge, and perspectives when they become a patient. End-of-life care for a medical professional may include collaboration and camaraderie between patients and caregivers and may also present specific challenges. 

Becoming a hospice patient as a medical professional can be challenging. However, with the support of family and an attentive care team, those with medical backgrounds can experience this unique time in a positive way. When discussing end-of-life care with a patient who is a medical professional, they may have questions like:

  • “How can I trust my family and team to take care of me at home?”
  • “Do I really require someone else to take care of my needs?”
  • “Will my team respect my preferences and wishes?”
  • “What if my family disagrees with my medical choices as the patient?”

These concerns are common and very normal. Medical professionals are people who spend their lives caring for the needs of others, and it can be hard to change gears and focus on caring for themselves during this time.

If you’re wondering how to help your loved one in this situation, take a look at these tips.

The Patient Is the Leader of the Care Team

When you are discussing the plan of care with your loved one and their team, remember that your loved one’s preferences and choices matter the most. Your loved one will have choices throughout the planning and throughout their care. While family members will probably have strong opinions about topics such as medical intervention in comfort care, do not resuscitate forms, and spiritual care, it can significantly help your loved one to support them in their personal preferences. 

In end-of-life care for a medical professional, they may express skepticism about their medical team or family’s ability to care for their needs. However, by gaining the support of their family, a patient may feel increased confidence and safety in their plan of care. It is important to value the knowledge and perspectives of those patients with medical experience and respect their freedom to make informed decisions regarding their care.

Remind your loved ones that they are the decision-maker. We encourage patients to plan for the future as soon as they can. This includes preparing end-of-life documents early in the hospice care process and talking about what they’d like to happen in the event that they develop a condition like dementia. 

Focus On Quality Time

For many medical professionals, it can be difficult to view themselves as a patient. Doctors, nurses, and caregivers of any kind are accustomed to taking care of the needs of others. It can be hard to let go of the control they once felt like the professional in the room. 

How can you help your loved one focus on taking it easy during this time?

Keep the focus on quality time. Be a trusted friend to your loved ones, and listen to their concerns and stories. Reassure them that they can rely on you and the care team. It can be hard to accept help from someone less medically experienced than they are. Have patience, and try to help them focus on the comforting aspect of hospice care. 

End-of-life care for a medical professional can mean coming to terms with accepting the aging process. Making precious memories during this time can make a significant impact on your loved one’s transition from a medical professional to a patient. Be an advocate for their preferences and wishes, and help them to focus on their comfort and family time. 

With support from family, medical professionals can learn to trust their team and spend this time enjoying their loved ones. Are you wondering how to start a conversation about hospice care with your loved one? To learn more about end-of-life care, please contact us anytime.

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