In my opinion, we as a society have a tendency to believe what we read, hear, or desperately want to grasp on to. This occurs especially when it comes from a place or person of perceived authority. We are so easily persuaded by many things; often the spoken and or written word of someone that we feel knows more than we do. I personally was raised to revere and honor those that held a higher level of education than I did. But I was also raised to question authority, politely of course.
So what I would like to address is when and how to question the authority and behavior of a person of perceived authority. In particular, your physician or primary care provider.
I have to say that this topic is stemming from a very personal perspective. You see, I truly believe that most people are good. They are kind and caring and genuinely want the best for one another. We all place not only our trust, our hearts but most importantly our health in the hands of others. We definitely want to believe that we can place just that, our trust, health and lives in the hands of our health care providers.
My skeptical and a little bit cynical side reared its’ ugly head today after I had a conversation with a woman I have known for years. A woman that I truly respect and admire. I listened in disbelief as she described her most recent experiences with her physician. It was very disheartening.
As she relayed her past several visits; I just sat and listened and truly tried to absorb what she has gone through.
One of the many unsettling stories she told me was that her physician actually set a timer each time he entered the exam room and said “When our 15 minutes are over, I have to leave.” This is something he told a woman who had been diagnosed with a variety of serious, potentially life threatening medical issues. I guess it just made my heart sink. Fortunately for us, that physician is not practicing here in Albuquerque.
I am hopeful that this is not the norm in the medical profession, but sadly I hear more and more stories similar to hers. My question is why don’t we speak up for ourselves? I’m sure a lot of people do; but often our fears and vulnerabilities prevent us from doing so. This was the explanation offered to me by my friend, a woman I have always known to stand up for herself. As a retired judge, she’s one of the strongest and most self assured people, male or female, that I have ever known.
Please understand I am not a medical professional, I am just a human being that cares about other people. I would certainly hope that the care provider I chose felt the same way I do. I would hope he or she would be compassionate and sympathetic. I would also hope that if I found myself in a similar vulnerable position that I would have the strength and courage to ask for a higher level of care.
We have to remember that we are their customers, no matter how they want to look at it. Your physicians are not doing you a favor by providing excellent care. It is their job, they took an oath. Quoting from the modern Hippocratic Oath, the sacred oath all physicians take before entering into practice, “I will remember there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.” In addition to that it states, “I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being.” They work for us. So demand, nicely of course, for the high level of care that they vowed to provide.
I guess my friend’s story hit me so hard because I have always looked at her as such a strong woman, and I still do. But if a strong woman such as her was willing to sit through months of this kind of “care”, what about those who have never had the courage to ever stand up for themselves? Of course my thoughts immediately turned to all of the people in my life that I love that may be in a position of potential vulnerability and weakness and they may not be able to stand up for themselves and demand the care that they deserve.
I guess this whole thing has heightened my awareness. I don’t like seeing anyone being taken advantage of.
Hopefully this has not read like a rant. Of course there are highly qualified, caring medical professionals here in our community. I just hope that maybe anyone that reads this will realize that they do have choices. We have the power to decide who we allow to be our care providers and our physicians.
I can only speak for myself, but sadly I have probably spent more time researching and dedicated more effort into finding the right car, the right cable and internet provider and sadly even the right shoes to go with my new dress than I did choosing the right doctor.
I hope that anyone reading this will walk away with a sense of self-empowerment and not let anyone or anything stand in their way of making the best decision. Walk in armed not with fear of the unknown but the power of what you know now.
Go in equipped with the right questions to ask. Go in knowing what you expect of your physician or primary care provider. I’m not saying that you should walk in with a chip on your shoulder. Simply walk in to the office armed with knowledge and questions and ask those questions with a smile on your face. Remember that you are the boss
here and you have hired this person to do the best job they can possibly do for you. You wouldn’t expect anything less from any other person that you might hire. So why compromise in this situation, maybe the most important relationship you have outside of your own family?
As I mentioned, I have been guilty of not taking the time to choose my primary care provider or physician wisely. I am also guilty of settling for less than stellar medical care. But those days are behind me. And hopefully they will be behind all of you as well.