In graduate school I wrote a paper about the violence that healthcare workers experience at the hands of patients. I had witnessed such behavior while working in a hospital environment. I had also heard nurses talk about patients whom had physically assaulted them, put their hands on them in inappropriate places, threw things, or made inappropriate comments. At the conclusion of the paper, I was alarmed to see the amount of disrespect that was occurring in our nation’s hospitals by the very people who nurses and doctors sacrifice so much for.

I wrote this paper in 2016. Fast forward to today, as we struggle to break free from the grip of COVID-19, we see evidence that the disrespect has grown stronger. As a child, I was taught to respect doctors, nurses, and those in the healthcare field because they were knowledgeable and caring. After all, they had sacrificed countless hours in preparation, spent thousands of dollars to attend school, and crammed for exams that were nerve racking. However, something has shifted in our society. As evident today, a good portion of the American population trust social media more than their medical providers. Furthermore, they value the opinions of news organizations and politicians more than they value valid medical research and proven data.

How did we get here—and where did we go wrong? The answer to that question I am unsure of to be honest. However, I do know that the disrespect shown toward our medical professionals must change if we want to continue to thrive as a society. I worry about what the children of today are learning. They see some adults, those whom they trust to raise them up and show them how to best thrive, refusing medical advice and life saving vaccines because of something posted on social media or something they read by an online blogger. What will this do to future generations? Will they have any respect for healthcare providers? Will they trust the facts they are taught in school such as America is a democratic nation? What information will they hold valid—and refuse to acknowledge simply because a politician tells them not to believe it?

In closing, healthcare professionals are not perfect; like any field there are those who practice medicine for the wrong reasons. However, the field itself, the field of medicine and science, must be respected and trusted. We need to transfer that respect and trust to future generations so that they can apply medical facts to their own lives and make the best decisions related to their health.

Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Let’s give the future generations the opportunity we were given by our grandparents and parents. Let’s give them the opportunity to respect those who have given so much, in some cases their all, to provide medical care to those in need.

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