Chapter 4

Why is it so hard to speak up?

Bird's eye view of 6 people sitting around a rectangle table

After hearing from all the members of the team, it was my turn to provide my assessment. But, instead of speaking up, I froze.

I had spent a lot of time with the patient and his wife, and I’d developed a good rapport with them. They trusted me to advocate for them. I didn’t feel confident enough to speak up. Why was it so hard for me to share my professional opinion with the rest of my team?

Negative thoughts ran through my head...

Illustration of Herminia

If I express an opinion that’s different from the rest of my team, they might get angry with me.

They don’t need my opinion, I’m just a nurse. The Doctor knows better.

Still, I can’t help but feel like maybe I should say something.

The next day...

I was with the patient when the doctor visited during rounds. The doctor announced, “you’re going to be discharged tomorrow, isn’t that excellent news?”

The patient’s wife got upset and yelled, “I can’t take him home – it is too much to handle!”

Male Doctor checking up on Elderly Man on hospital bed
Female Nurse talking with Male Doctor

The doctor looked confused. I explained that the patient’s wife had dementia and that he was her sole caregiver.

“I was not aware of this information,” the Doctor said.

I was surprised that the Doctor didn’t know that the patient’s wife had dementia and I felt like I should have spoken up earlier.

Questions for Herminia

What do we do when we feel distressed? Sometimes we dismiss our own professional importance by staying quiet and not speaking up. However, we are members of a team. Each person has value and something to contribute and has a responsibility to quality patient care to speak to the rest of the team member about the patient’s needs, This is called patient advocacy.

Great job! Module four is complete.