I read your editorial post Behind Closed Doors1 with curiosity and little surprise. The reason was that, although we were in different countries, I realized that our view to taboos is common. I think we still cannot break the taboos related to issues such as sexual life, religion/spirituality, and death process, which I think are the needs to be met and have an important place in the field of health. The reason for this is that we have these taboos in our normal life and reflect it to our professional life. Of course, the way families raise you, the country you live in, and even the neighborhood where your home is located affect this situation.
Any nurse who provides care or takes the first step in the field of health should first face the taboos in his or her life. Thus, he or she will approach his or her patients more biased and adopt their values. Chronic diseases, traumas, disability, or any situation that negatively affects our health raises these taboos that we are afraid to face. As you mentioned, over the years, we have overcome some taboos and started to communicate more comfortably with patients about processes such as sexual life, spirituality, and death. However, are we really able to fulfill it as intended, I'm not sure. A stroke patient will not be able to live his or her sexual life and religious practice as before; it is obvious that he or she will be affected. A stroke patient will experience the process of survival and death more deeply—it is clear. A stroke patient will want to be informed about the state's opportunities for him or her to survive—it is clear. A stroke patient will adopt new lifestyle modifications so as not to experience a second stroke. For this reason, we should not allow the papers we have to robotize us, focus on the patient, and leave our taboos aside.
However, what we do with taboos against nurses? For example, in Turkey, we still did not break the “nurses just take blood and measure blood pressure” taboo. However, each field is full of undergraduate and graduate nurses and managers who reflect different nurse identities and duties. There is also a taboo of “what does the nurse know?” Sorry, but we know a lot of things, because we are healthcare professionals who spend the longest time with patients (from intensive care to the policlinic). Our knowledge and experience are folded with each patient. We have the most advantageous position in guiding, helping, and educating patients and even other healthcare professionals (of course, not exceeding the limits). However, because of the very easy abuse of this situation, we may not be able to make a sound; we just share and cover it with our colleagues behind closed doors. Most of the doctors I worked with in the clinical field were memories of “I learned a lot from that nurse.” And, of course, I have experienced this situation, in a good or bad way. Sometimes, I contributed to some people's professional life; sometimes, my opinion or suggestion was ignored. Likewise, I learned a lot from my colleagues and other healthcare professionals on behalf of my profession and myself, and I definitely cannot deny it. To set aside such taboos and egos, we must of course keep mutual respect and affection in the center and remember that we are here for patients, not for ourselves.
I wish that the concept of “multidisciplinary,” which we have highlighted in any case, is not empty. With personal regards,
Lecturer, MSc Internal Medicine Nursing, and PhD Candidate
1. Olson DM. Behind Closed Doors. J Neurosci Nurs