Practice: insights to the true self

They told us that treating patients would be easy…

They didn’t always tell us about all the hard conversations…

They didn’t always tell us about the honest hard truths that need to be said, whether you want to say them or not…

Awkward silences, patients that think they know everything already, patients that don’t trust your opinion or advice, knowing that if someone lost weight or walked more most of their problems would be solved. How do you respond in these situations?

Being in practice is not only a chance for helping other people, but it is a chance to gain some major insight into who you really are as a person. Sometimes we get so wrapped up on things in our head, what we perceive is there. And we forget that the other party may not be perceiving the same thing. For example, that “awkward silence”, may be relaxing for the patient, maybe they are running around constantly during the day, and those 10 minutes of peace they get in your office are actually part of that persons healing process.

If we stay open and pay attention, it helps us to find our weaknesses. And once you identify weaknesses, then you can work to change them. One of my major weaknesses in the first year, was not saying what the person needed to hear, because it made me feel uncomfortable. In my head I justified it to myself as ” if it’s uncomfortable for me, then it must be uncomfortable for them too”. Once I realized that I was doing this, I started to change things. Yes, it was difficult, and it was uncomfortable for me to say these things, but the response from the patients was overwhelming! They appreciated it so much more, and took me much more seriously when I was completely honest with them, and didn’t hold back. To see someone completely tuned in to what you are saying, hanging on every word like it’s a life raft in a big deep ocean, is such a rewarding part of patient care.

I challenge all of you other practitioners out there, be honest with your patients, and when you are feeling uncomfortable in an interaction, ask yourself, who is this really uncomfortable for? And if the answer is “me”, then overcome and push through and do or say the things that need to be said and done. Which may also mean not saying or not doing something. Use practice as a way of not only helping other people, but learning to help yourself.


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