James Bond, famously, has a license to kill. His government has told him that in service to the Queen, it is understood that he will sometimes have to kill people. That’s one of the things that comes with being Agent 007. If you watch the James Bond movies, you rarely see him feeling any remorse for killing someone. After all, he was serving Queen and Country. Based on the body count in some of the movies, he uses that license very liberally. 

Nobody questions whether or not someone had to be killed in a certain situation.  In fact, there are many scenes in the movies where Bond walks away in slow motion, calmly, even with a smile, as carnage he has cause explodes behind him. He doesn’t have to look back at the destruction he caused. Bond has a license.

In healthcare, you have a license too. Not to kill of course, we’re trying to do the opposite… but you do have a license. A license to wake a sleeping patient, to puncture someone’s skin and make them bleed, to ask them to take their clothes off in front of you, to limit their access to loved ones, to decide when they get relief from their pain, and on and on. That’s very powerful.

When you walk into a room to draw blood, you aren’t required to ask permission. They are the patient. Their skin will be punctured and they WILL bleed. There is no debating this. You have orders. You have a license.  Call yourself Agent 008.

It is easy to take this license too lightly. After all, we have work to do in the service of Queen and Country. But you must always use this license with a tremendous dose of human kindness. Otherwise, at the end of your patient interaction, you’ll be like James Bond, walking out of the room without looking back to see any collateral damage. James Bond swoops in, guns blazing, and “takes care of business.” In healthcare, we have to enter softly, use our license gently, and always be careful to prevent the explosion, not cause it.

You have orders. And you have a license. Use them carefully.