Reflections: Problems to be solved/Situations to be accepted

By Thomas Kochman - 06.01.2013

An article by Nancy Adler identified a culture clash at one hospital between Filipino nurses and mainstream U.S. doctors that had a direct impact on doctor-nurse communication as well as the kind of treatment patients received.

Filipino nurses, in the instances Adler described, saw the medical condition of some patients as “situations to be accepted”. The doctors saw it as a “problem to be solved”.

How one approaches a problem or situation of course, is critical to the kinds of decisions that are made. Problems, as one boss put it, “can be solved.” Situations “beg to be managed.” They don’t go away “but the disruption and unpleasantness can be controlled.”

We can probably think of any number of various problems/situations which, depending upon one or the other outlook, dictate what happens next.

Some years ago a friend of ours was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. His response to the news had a mixture of “problem to be fixed” and “situation to be accepted.” Read more »