One of my responsibilities, using U.S. Department of Transportation guidelines, is to evaluate local employees who drive embassy vehicles. Ninety percent of the drivers evaluated are men who are 100 percent worried that they won’t pass and will be suspended from driving, which rarely happens. Hypertension is usually the biggest health issue that presents in these physicals and, regardless of the actual BP reading, the drivers always blame it on “white coat syndrome.” Most of the time, the initial conversation goes something like this.
Me: I see your blood pressure is a little high today. Do you have high blood pressure?
Driver: No, I’m just nervous to be here.
Me: Really, there is no reason to be nervous. Do you take any prescription medication?
Driver: No, unless my doctor gives me something.
Me: Has your doctor given you anything recently?
Driver: I have those little pills I take when I need to.
Me: What are those pills for?
Driver: For when I get stressed, like now, and my blood pressure goes up, but I don’t have blood pressure problems unless I’m stressed.
Me: How often do you take those pills?
Driver: Well, my doctor told me to take them every day, but I only take them when I’m stressed or I know I’m going to be nervous.
Me: So, you are being treated for high blood pressure?
OK, now we are getting somewhere!
For Reflections on Nursing Leadership, published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.