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The Unfortunate Need for Self-Defense Training for Health Care Professionals

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The Unfortunate Need for Self-Defense Training for Health Care Professionals

As a young physician going through my Emergency Room rotation at Temple University, I had an unpleasant experience with a patient in the hallway asking for pain medication with heavy smell of tobacco and alcohol in his breath. When the request for pain medicine was denied, the patient became belligerent and threatened to “punch me in the face”. Luckily at that time I was already a blackbelt in 2 disciplines of martial arts and I was not afraid to stand up to this person. But most people are not as fortunate. Security may not get there in time if there’s an altercation. Therefore, health care professionals should know some basic self-defense moves to protect themselves from these aggressive patients. 

Often we get these patients with unrealistic expectations, in pain, or any other emotional or physical trauma and often take it out on health care professionals such as nurses, techs, and physicians. In this unfortunate reality, nurses have been abused, techs and physicians have been attacked. I believe that every health care professional should have some degree of basic self-defense training and Jiu-jitsu is the way to go to help control a belligerent patient until security arrives. Unfortunately, security sometimes cannot get there in time when a patient is attacking a health care provider behind closed doors or at bedside. 

The president of the American Medical Association on February 3, 2022 knows that while violence against physicians and health care professionals is not a new occurrence, but the reported uptick of intimidation, threats and attacks against people in the medical profession has been on the rise for at least the last decade and has become even more of an alarming phenomenon since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Research has confirmed that while personal experiences have told us the World Health Organization has estimated that as many as 38% of those in the medical profession suffered physical violence at some point in their career and many more have been threatened or verbally abused. 

In the U.S., injuries caused by violent attacks against medical professionals grew 67% from 2011 to 2018. Health care workers are five times more likely to experience workplace violence than any other workers in all other industries according to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Another study found that in 2020, health care professionals are about 50 % more likely than community members to have been harassed, bullied or hurt as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, racially motivated violence is on the rise especially against Asian-Americans. We must protect those that heal and our frontline workers. That’s why at Global Brazilian Jiu-jitsu ,we offer personal rates for our frontline medical professionals, police, and firemen. It is essential for nurses and doctors to have the basic self-defense knowledge and practice as well as sufficient control of patients who may be not in the best mental state at the time of encountering health care professionals. This is not an excuse for this behavior, violence, and abuse of health care workers. 

You must remain vigilant, make note of where security is present in your area and make sure that you are within view and earshot of your co-workers in dealing with a potentially violent individual. It is unfortunate that the cultural violence has increased recently. Healthcare workers must protect themselves and learn the basic art of self-defense through any kind of martial arts. Brazilian Jiu-jitsu being the utter choice in controlling the assailant and unfortunately, the patients, when needed. 

At Global Jiujitsu, we can teach you how to master self-defense through BJJ. Learn from the best with our world-class BJJ instructors. Enroll now at  Brazilian Jiujitsu in Naples.

Whether you are a seasoned student or new student eager to learn, come try a class with the best! Sign up for a free trial!

We look forward to helping you and your family.


Dr. Kevin Lam
Karate Blackbelt, Taekwondo Blackbelt, and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu Blackbelt 
Assisting Coach at Global BJJ



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