Yesterday I had to give a presentation in class. It was over one of the many neurodegenerative diseases: risk factors, signs & symptoms, treatment, etc. I'm having a hard time getting into this semester, so I didn't prepare what I was going to say. The only thing I planned was I planned on winging it. I had the factual information already documented in my presentation, and I figured I would just go over the facts with my classmates.
But before I knew what was coming out of my mouth, I got on my (professional-sounding) soapbox. I told my classmates that once we graduate and are out in the field working with our patients that we need to be mindful of what we say to them. I said our future patients will be dealing with life-altering traumas and we need to respect that. I said they will have friends check on them for a week or two, or a month or two, but after that everyone goes on with their own lives. I said our patients may be lonely, bored, sad, and frustrated. I told my class that it is imperative that we always consider the mental health of our patient, that many of them will get depressed.
Then, without planning to, I said the big thing. I said, "And please, never tell a patient that 'Everything happens for a reason.' That's simply not true. Some things just happen. And they are really, really bad. Please avoid telling them meaningless platitudes at all costs."
I paused for a moment to let that resonate and I noticed a couple of classmates nodding their heads. Then I figured I better get back to the facts and figures of my presentation so I did and wrapped it up. Afterwards, three different people told me they really appreciated my additional comments.
If I stopped even just one person from saying that insensitive phrase in the future, then yesterday's deviation from my presentation was worth it.