Showing Gratitude: What are Patients Thankful For?

Thankful patient showing gratitude

It can be difficult to care for patients night and day for weeks and months without hearing a word of thanks or a single expression of gratitude. Although the majority of patients are indeed grateful for physicians, they are usually too sick, confused, afraid or anxious to express it. Once they leave the hospital, the majority of patients won’t take the extra effort to express their thanks through emails or written letters. They return to their lives thankful that they feel better. They may tell all their friends how great their physician is but it’s rare that they’d express it directly to their physician.

Since we are in the middle of the season of thanks, we thought it was a good time to deliver a dose of patient gratitude directly to you. We discovered what some patients say about their physicians so you can read firsthand why the majority are grateful for the skill, care, and compassion you provide.

In Waconia, Minnesota, even though her arm had to be amputated, Jesse is thankful to be alive and have her little girl, Mollie. While Jesse was driving home one day in July she blacked out and hit a tree. First responders found her bleeding profusely with her arm trapped in the wreckage. They freed her and when the emergency room team was stabilizing her they discovered she was seven months pregnant. Jesse was unresponsive and the baby was struggling. Her daughter was delivered seconds later by Caesarean section and cared for by the neonatal team who transported her to the Children’s Hospital. It’s been a year since the accident and Jesse and her daughter Mollie are doing well. “Thank you isn’t enough,” Krone explained, “I could have had nothing but now I have everything.”

The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics regularly publish grateful patient comments that include thanks for:

Communication:The resident I saw was kind, considerate, and very professional. He promptly cared for me and answered all my questions. Would absolutely recommend him.”

Listening: “So far, I have had nothing but positive things to say about Dr. Ward and the majority of the staff.  She always answers all of my questions and never makes my concerns seem trivial.”

Clinical skill/personal connection: “My experience with Dr. Chandan Reddy has been wonderful. Not only is he personable, he remembers specific details about me and my life every time I visit. Also, he is an awesome surgeon. He did a procedure on my arm that could have the potential to restore my hand to full function from a claw state. Not only did the claw go away, I have been getting full feeling in all my fingers. Dr. Reddy’s level of care is top notch, that is why I drive almost 2 hours to see him for my arms/neurological issues.”

You wouldn’t think that those who are battling cancer would have something to be thankful for, but they do. Quite often it involves the medical staff at the center of their care:

“I am thankful to my care team at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for making sure I get the best care in the world and holding my hand through the process.

I am thankful I have multiple sources to turn to in order to make sure I am getting the best care, that it makes sense, to help decipher the medical terms, to walk me through the treatment process, and to give me general advice on cancer care.”

Courtland L., Current breast-cancer patient

“I vividly recall the phone call telling me I had cancer, and how that took my breath away. I am still thankful for early detection, the surgeon’s hands removing all the affected areas, the acupuncture I did after the surgery instead of radiation, my circle of close friends, and most of all being cancer-free for 10 years now.”

Mari Selby, 10-year uterine cancer survivor

From Maine, in the midst of pain, comes gratitude for the care:

“In what was an extremely painful week for me, there was much goodness that came from the experience. From food and maintenance to the doctors and nurses and the whole team, I was overwhelmed with the very apparent camaraderie and teamwork. I do understand that these are chosen and highly trained professionals, however at Mid Coast Hospital, everyone that I met was definitely a cut above! Thank you.”

Penny M.,Orrs Island, Maine

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, a children’s hospital, asked their patients what they are thankful for. When all else fails, remember the words of Justin, who survived being hit by a bus last month. What is young Justin thankful for? He wrote his answer without hesitation: “For not dying!”

It never seems enough to thank a doctor for healing and saving lives, but it’s all we have – so thank you!