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Angry Patients

“Oh, you guys get to go home, huh,” the man in the black t-shirt sad with a grin.

I heard my classmate laugh as the four of us continued walking through the waiting room towards the exit. We had just concluded a one-hour lecture and it was time to go home for the weekend. But in order to get from the conference room to the parking lot, we had to go through a waiting room half-full with people had been waiting for who-knows-how-long.

“How can you just leave when there are people waiting here?!” A second patient yelled out sarcastically. At least I thought she was saying this in fun. In response I smiled at her.

But after I rounded the corner, I whispered to my classmate, “I think she was serious.”

So far, I have been fortunate enough to avoid personal encounters with angry patients. I have watched as attendings talked to frustrated and angry patients. I have heard stories of patients telling other students that they don’t like them or other stories of angry patients yelling at medical students. But I have never had the misfortune of experiencing this first-hand.

I fear, though, that it is inevitable. Anyone who deals with patients will eventually have to deal with angry patients. I just hope that when the time comes, I will be able to handle it well.

  • patients must be patient!

  • Amber

    Agreed about the inevitability, but I guess if you think about it, anyone who has to deal with people will eventually/at one point deal with angry people…