“My Patient Pledge” from April Thomas MSN, APRN
May 24, 2021
My Pledge to My Patients
My patient pledge is that I use my vast experiences and knowledge to improve the lives of each patient.
The first years of my career as a Nurse Practitioner were spent in a small community health clinic. My patients and I had very little resources. They had many daily battles to fight – food, housing, and safety. Battles that none of us should have to worry about losing. With these issues came lack of time or energy to care for their health, so chronic diseases like heart disease – and even depression and anxiety – were often the result.
I strove to connect with my patients and did everything I could to learn about their circumstances and barriers to care. This is essential to learning how to care for people – you need to meet them where they are. In my clinic, we did have one very important resource – quite possibly the most important resource: Time. Time was crucial for me. It was going to be the driving force in establishing trust.
I was able to have long visits and get to know my patients, their personal history, family history, lifestyle, and more. As my patients witnessed me learning them, we developed strong bonds. I was able to formulate accurate, responsive and educated care plans that I knew would work with them, their resources and their personality. That’s when I saw follow-through. Most importantly, that’s when I saw improvement. I was using small nutritional changes to reverse chronic conditions and prevent other diseases.
This really got me thinking about where my passion lies. The severe impact of the body on mental health is, in my opinion, not widely known or understood. We’re talking about neurological/chemical imbalances, not only thoughts like “I feel bad because I ate cake.” For example, you might not know that your gastrointestinal tract houses tons of bacteria that are responsible for guiding the production of neurotransmitters. That’s why when you eat healthy, your mood is affected positively – you’re influencing your chemical balances. Consistently doing so will make it less likely to have a chronic mood disorder.
And as you now know, time is so important when you’re auditing someone’s current knowledge, behaviors and history. Healthcare can’t happen in a ten-minute appointment and quick prescription write-up.
While prescriptions can work really well for maintaining mental health, it’s supplemental to discovering and treating the underlying causes of the illness. I work a lot with lab testing and nutrition to find those causes and develop relationships with my patients to keep them accountable for their health plans. With small steps, I’ve found that my patients can slowly improve their lifestyles and improve their health.
I am grateful for my roots in a community health setting, that experience established my point of view on care. I will always seek to understand and empathize with my patients. I will always be on their side and I will always be their advocate. I don’t see any other viable way to practice medicine. This is my patient pledge.
To learn more about Strada affiliate provider April Thomas MSN, APRN, please visit her webpage here.