Choose The Learning and The Teaching You do, and That is Done To You: Patient-Doctor relationship

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Self-Care Tip – Choose the learning and the teaching you do, and not be passive to it, when in your patient-doctor relationship.

Hearing a physician tell us when we can and cannot take medications is somewhat private.  In our culture in our “advanced” and liberated age it isn’t so easy to feel handled like that.  But feeling handled verses helped is our choice.  It is all the more reason to dig in our fears and see what scares us.  If what we find there is that our fear is playing into keeping us from receiving this information, and decide actively if that is really in our best interest.  Emotion has it’s own activity, different from a muscle in our arm.  When we respond to the emotion, and especially if we respond before we do this kind of digging into the fear, we might not actually be doing protective behavior, like our fear would have us believe.

We have talked a bit in previous blog-posts about the patient-doctor relationship being a team effort.  It quickly became apparent that some of us don’t perceive that we have the luxury of working with a physician who see’s their patient as a person to learn from and influence their treatment decisions.  But it is still important to know that this exchange is critical for us and then to let that knowledge progress to a wanting in us to have this dynamic relationship with our physician.  The knowledge and the wanting will have their way in us and in our communities subsequently.  We do not know how long that will take but it will happen.

The marvelous scientist, Deb Roy, from MIT talked about his research on language development.  It was of course extremely endearing as it began with his work with his own infant baby and hooked us both by the intimacy of it and the marvelous discoveries.  Then after we were oohing and ah’ing (most appropriately because this is AWESOME stuff!) he moved us into our cities and media and showed us with his data and eloquence that in order for learning to happen, the professor and the student, the sales rep and the client, the physician and the patient, the parent and the child, both learn and teach simultaneously.  Whether it is subconscious or conscious.  The baby teaches the parent to teach him better and the parent learns this from the baby.   The physician teaches the patient and the patient teaches the physician to teach him better.

Both roles of instructor and student you see requires humility to learn and teach.  They both push into private spaces of the other.  Without consent, either conscious consent or subconscious consent must be there, it will not happen.  So this is consensual, even when we do not realize it.

Now what do you think the friendly thing is for us to do for ourselves, considering this growth in our knowledge?

Of course.  We will be more effective if we embrace this knowingly, willingly, humbly.  Move this learning process from the subconscious to the conscious level.  Make it as deliberate as possible.  For both physician and patient, this is good self-care.  Accept that when we engage in a patient-doctor relationship, we are giving that other person admittance, by our will and choice, admittance to that private space inside of us and not feel the victim when they enter.

Questions:  How has feeling like a victim sabotaged your patient-doctor relationship?  How have you worked past it in a positive way for both of you?  Please tell me your story.

11 thoughts on “Choose The Learning and The Teaching You do, and That is Done To You: Patient-Doctor relationship

  1. It’s assembly line medicine these days even if your MD has been long term He has to pay receptionist/apt/file lady, an insurance clerk and a nurse whose primary job is to be in the examining room to witness that the doctor did not make sexual advances or other improper conduct. Malpractice insurance, office expenses, furniture, machines, implements He has to see 50 patients a day to make ends meet let alone showing any profit. I would guess he has to bring in a $million and a half to clear $100,000. I wold guess my eye guy sees a dozen an hour !

  2. It’s unfortunate that feeling like a victim too often causes us to allow ourselves to be cared for rather than caring for ourselves. It’s too easy, when we’re hurting, to give up and not fight for ourselves, even when our bodies are screaming “NOOOooooooo!!!” as they react to medications and other treatments. And, in my case at least, because general physicians are often tentative about how to treat mental illness, their tentativeness and our inability to stand up for ourselves sometimes create serious train wrecks in our mental health care journey. I don’t know what the answer is – or might have been for me – but until I understood not only the devastation of thinking of myself as a victim and the necessity of taking care of myself (beginning and ending with me), I really wasn’t a team member in my medical care (or, for that matter, my talk therapy care). I think if I had understood those things from the outset my 18 years of mental health problems might have been considerably shorter.

  3. Deb Roy is amazing… We watched his Ted talk not too long ago. Can you imagine having that kind of data that he now has?!?!

    You are right: true learning is bidirectional. Just by being present with another human, we open ourselves up to mutual teaching and learning.

  4. Hi Sana
    I think that the doctor patient relationship has changed over the past years.

    For my parents generation, you did as you were told by the doctor.
    Now, we ask questions and want details of what the doctor is doing.

    Love your line “Both roles of instructor and student you see requires humility to learn and teach.”

    That can only be a good thing.

    BTW – appreciate your comment over at easyP.

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