Participate – Work as Part of A Team With Your Medical Providers


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Self-Care Tip – Work as part of a team with your medical providers.

Today I had the pleasure of speaking with managing editor of the Journal of Participatory Medicine (JoPM,) Kathleen O’Malley.  Ms. O’Malley spoke to me about the effort they are making in this online journal to collaborate the work between patients and physicians.  Ultimately, their goal is to eliminate the barriers that keep us each from seeking to learn from the other’s perspective and knowledge.  She tells me that,

We are a team.

When my brother Vance’s baby was born, she was damaged and premature, so tiny and needed help to live.  Now, one year later, I am playing ball with her on the floor.  Her intelligent smile, thriving body and especially the lovely nape of her neck with that baby-curl of hair lipping up makes remembering her near death-dive into life surreal.  I don’t really want to remember it anyway.  But when I cannot help myself, what I like to think of is how my brother and sister-in-law were treated.

The physicians at UCSD were unbelievable.  Vance told me, with somewhat pressured speech from his amazement, how they, without hesitation, included him in their daily decision-making and informed him of any medical study results.  In case you don’t know, in case you have never been sick or been in a medical setting otherwise, this does not always happen.

I know I am guilty of this too.  Hovering over charts, hiding laboratory results, many of us practitioners behave as if our patients were at any moment going to throw us into court.  It is embarrassing, even though the truth is, too many of us physicians are stalked by litigious intentions, whilst the hoards of truly awful practitioners seem to sail away on unsinkable malpractice without pursuit.

Ms. O’Malley and the JoPM are working with all of us to put the bows, arrows, guns and weaponry down and take two steps back.  It is Thanksgiving-day every day there (I call Pocahontas!  I look good with brades.) and at the safe-place that this journal offers, we can learn from each other.  We can collaborate.  We can be vulnerable and not be preyed upon.   We can be sick, we can teach, we can simply observe and hope that like my niece, in time, we will find ourselves growing up in health and love more so because of it.

Please take a gander over to JoPM.  Say hi to Ms. O’Malley.  Read some of the stories from patients and physicians.  Comment if you will and participate for self-care.  It is your right.  You are free to choose.

Questions:  When you have had, or been proxy to (as I was with my niece), a spectacular patient-doctor exchange – what made it so great?  How did you “participate?”  How did participating make a difference for you v. “being mere passengers?”  Please tell me your story.

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