It is a common expectation that whoever is cooking will always be the first to taste from the pot. A professional chef has access to different recipes and is expected to be well nourished and well fed. He probably should eat out of his recipes routinely to know what he is serving customers. We would not be wrong to say that it is virtually unlikely that a chef should be hungry in the kitchen, not to talk of dying from starvation. But in the Health system, it’s totally a different thing altogether.
It’s an old myth in Rural African and other rural parts of the world too, that a Health Professional can not be sick. In fact, in some communities, it’s quite anomalous to hear that a Doctor is ill. They probably would say the gods are involved. This, I believe, can be attributed to both Ignorance and High expectations.
IGNORANCE: This would be easy to explain by analyzing another myth common in Africa which postulates that because a person attended a tertiary institution, that person cannot be poor or must be successful. Today, we know that education is not a guarantee for success. In the same way, people just believe that because you are a Health Professional, you are immune to any form of ailment. Unfortunately, some Health workers have flourished an unnecessary ego on this ignorance, and without taking proper healthy measures in their living, make boast that they can’t be sick. “I’m a Doctor, I can not be sick”.
HIGH EXPECTATION: Well, this is not a bad one per se. Generally, people expect that if you are a preacher, your sermon should have changed you first. Or a Seamstress should not wear torn clothes. In the same way, it is expected that a health worker or professional should be a great practitioner of a healthy lifestyle. Hence, it should be rare that he should fall sick.
Today, it is somewhat surprising to see or hear that health workers come down with common treatable or manageable conditions, and some are even preventable. It is also a common saying among people and in health care system, that health professionals are the worse kind of patients. Reasons for this, among many, are
1. Some Health workers seldom conduct health check-ups on themselves.
2. Sometimes Health workers, who are already under medications, give poor compliance to their treatment plan. I wonder if this is a result of over-familiarity with drugs or the treatment procedure.
As Healthcare professionals we should be better examples to our patients. Give yourself the best of healthcare, not just for you, your family, but also for the patients. They need you to always be available to rescue them from their conditions with the privileged knowledge you have acquired. Some patients care about you (the Health professional) but they can’t give you the Medicare that you require to stay healthy. That is something you should do for yourself. The health care professional should have more frequent health checks than their patients because you get exposed to a lot more.
Do not forget that you’re human and every day you are exposed to threatening conditions, some of which can be infectious. Have a taste of the better part of your profession; at least start from there. General health assessment, Eye Check, Dental examination, Dietary control, exercise and physical fitness should become a compulsory routine for every Health Professional in Health Establishments. It is good for the Profession.
Come to think of it, when was the last time you had a check-up?