Do You Care?

Two of my blogging friends wrote excellent posts yesterday thay made me think. Of course, that’s what good writing does.

 The first post, from @jordangrumet was titled “Caring 2.0:#HCSM And The Rise Of The Empathic Physician”. Jordan makes several good points, including the fact that nowadays doctors, nurses, pharmacists, patients and advocates can reach not hundreds or thousands but even millions of people online, getting the word out about diseases and treatment and sharing knowledge. He says that knowledge is limited, but maybe caring is not. He says that it’s time to not only tell people what we know, but who were are. 

 He challenges us to move to a Caring 2.0 mindset, a process that involves us showing patients that we are human, that we suffer too, and that we have a lot to offer because of our own life experiences that we will share with them in the collaboration between the patient and the healer. 

 I am rethinking my own blog at gregsmithmd.com. I want to not only share my knowledge and  understanding of mental health, forged in the fires of twenty six years of clinical experience in the field, but to show that I live, love, and suffer too and that these life experiences make me better able to serve my patients. In doing this, I want to become “the doctor my patient really needs”, as Jordan so nicely sums it up.

 Another friend made these feelings manifest in words and pictures in a blog post titled “Let them eat…garbage?” that can be found here. @knotellin speaks of the Jewish tradition and custom of putting out leftover bread in public, sometimes tying it up in plastic bags on the metal outcroppings of rubbish bins so that it may easily be found and harvested by the poor who search for the leavings of those more fortunate than them for daily subsistence. In so doing, the writer goes on to say, “not only is the poor person who has to feed himself or his family debased, but so is the giver. There is no dignity in this transaction for anyone”. 

 My comment to @knotellin about this post was the following:

“I can’t “like” this post, but it certainly makes me think. I am struggling with the same issues in my own field of medicine, psychiatry, in that the medical care that is provided for these “throwaway patients” is often substandard, inferior, and “hung from the metal projections” of the medical hierarchy. What indeed does it say about us as humans that we often provide the neediest among us with the leavings of the richest of us, thinking that we have done out part and washing our hands of any more responsibility than that?”

Thank you, @jordangrumet and @knotellin, for really making me think yesterday. You showed me that we need to move forward to be more transparent in our dealing with our patients as people, and that judicious use of life experience shared makes the therapeutic process richer and the act of healing deeper.

 You also showed me that this sharing can and should occur in a way that is not demeaning to patient or exhalting to clinician, but in a way that lets mutual respect forge a strong partnership that is based on trust, not solely on paternalism and charity.

 Thank you for your writing, your teaching and for touching me in a profound way yesterday.

 

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