This is a part of the Hot Topic podcast series from the Model Systems Knowledge Translation Center on Employment After Burn Injury. Nicole S. Gibran, MD, researcher, discusses, What Burn Patients Go Through.

NICOLE GIBRAN: Personally, I don’t know what it’s like. I can only, uh, extrapolate from what I have witnessed in my patients, and I have been taking care of patients for 20 years, and I have seen what they and their families go through. But I personally am not sure that I can put them, put myself in their shoes. I think one of the things that they experience is that their whole life has all of a sudden been thrown out the window. You can imagine how you feel when all of a sudden, you are faced with extraordinary pain, you don’t know what the next step is going to be. The doctors, such as myself, come into your room and say, “Well, we’re going to watch and see how your wounds heal, and we might operate, we might not. You’re going to be in the hospital for one day for every percent burn. So if you have a 50% burn, you might be in the hospital for two months.

PETER ESSELMAN: We think we know what it’s like, but in fact we don’t. We, in, in many ways, uh, we can’t, uh, put too much expectations on patients, I think, about how they should be reacting and how they should be coping, and how they should be covering at any one moment. That I’ve learned over years that patients come to the situation, the trauma, very differently. Based on their life experiences, their upbringing, their social background, their support system, and uh, I think first of all, we have to step back and accept the patient for who they are. That uh, their uh, they may not meet our expectations of how to deal with their recovery and their rehabilitation. But once we do that, then we, then we meet them where they’re at and help them in the best way we can, given how they cope, their psychological adjustment, their physical adjustment, their family support and all that, so it’s important to not have a set model of recovery in mind, but really be individualized and work with the patient and their family.

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