What’s your working relationship with your doctor? Does he or she know and support your health goals? This blog is written to help you help your doctor.
First – a little story…
My friend Marcella suffered a terrible injury to her back while in her early 20s. As a result, she had 2 metal rods on either side of her spine to keep her upright and lived with extreme pain and the need for pain medication daily (lots of it). While waiting 7 years for the FDA to approve the surgery she ultimately received to remove the rods and shore up her spine, the dance to balance Marcella’s pain medication regimen was intricate and ever-changing. She had a team of people who helped her, her husband, her doctor, her best friend and her immediate boss were all part of her support network to make sure she was functioning at her best and neither under nor over medicated.
Marcella shared a story with me that truly inspired me. When she moved from Canada to the States, she needed a new doctor. In the quest for the right one, she created a health statement that was a brief history of her experiences and what her goals were for herself and her health, long term. She gave this health statement to be added to her file each time she tried out a new doctor. The doctors who a) read the statement before meeting with her and b) were on board with her goals and supporting her in achieving them were “hired.” Many of the doctors she met with never read the statement; still others read it and told her that her goal of one day getting off pain medication was completely unrealistic. At those meetings, she stood, thanked them and before the visit went any further, left the office. Marcella was fiercely committed to finding the right health professional to partner with her and believed 100% in the necessity of interviewing physicians to make sure she wouldn’t be wasting her time with someone who didn’t share and support her vision.
This level of communication from the outset in identifying and then working with your physician is critical in patient AND physician satisfaction. Doctors aren’t mind readers, they don’t know what we expect for ourselves and from them in helping us achieve it. Let’s give them a leg up; tell your doctor what you want from them and what you’re willing to do and not do in your pursuit of your optimal health.
What’s your health statement? How do you want your doctor to support you and your goals?
Without a document like this, how are the people we hire to know what we expect of them?
Here’s a sample health statement that can give you an idea of how to get started writing yours.
“My primary goals at this time are to avoid developing age-related chronic disease, to stay active, maintain a healthy weight, and manage my challenges with autoimmune flare ups and inflammation. My approach to wellness is to first and foremost put into practice preventative strategies. I’m interested in working with a physician who has, in addition to their medical training, studied functional and/or integrative medicine and is versed in holistic, lifestyle and nutraceutical treatments. The appropriate physician-patient relationship for me includes working with a doctor who will collaborate on a plan and strategies to support my health goals and believes with the right high prevention / low intervention strategies in place, those goals are attainable.”
Health Statement Tips:
Be optimistically realistic with your health goals and expectations. Keep your health statement brief – this is a statement about your philosophy with which you intend to
approach your health or current health concern/s and what you’re looking for in a doctor to support your approach – it’s a starting point from which to either build a working relationship or move on.
Be willing to adapt to new goals and strategies when necessary
Be brave, you may be the first person the doctor you’re meeting with has encountered who presents them with a health statement.
And as always, be a Leader
So, before you go to your next doctor’s visit, write your health statement to share with them. If
you’re working with the right doctor, they will be excited to have you as a patient. If you’re working with someone who’s uncomfortable with the partnership model you’re proposing, it may be time to move on!