I often speak about taking responsibility to my patients. Where does my responsibilty as a physician end and where does yours as a patient begin?
RESPONSIBILITY IS NOT ABOUT BLAME
First, let’s admit that there’s a bit of a grey zone where it’s not so clear who is in charge of what. But, believe it or not, that grey zone is a lot smaller (and a lot less grey) than most people believe. This is where we can hopefully rely on us being reasonable adults who are OK with vagueness (yes, vagueness!).
But, let’s be clear here. This is not about questioning professional competence. This is not about “being right” or “being wrong”. This is also not about pointing fingers when things get bumpy.
And let’s face it, things always get bumpy.
LET’S SORT THIS OUT WITH THE HELP OF A METAPHOR
It’s spring, and change is in the air! You’ve been dreaming about growing a rose garden in your front yard for the past few years and you’re all excited to get started. You’ve got everything you need – pruners, a shovel, and a book on how to grow perfect roses. All you need is a few plants. So, off you go to the Garden Centre and talk to the staff. The staff are fabulous – one of them is even an expert in roses! You have a lovely, in-depth, and inspiring discussion about how to grow the perfect rose and you bring it home, super excited to start.
Things come up – work gets busy. The kids have Parent-Teacher Interviews. It’s tax season and you’re in arrears. And, somehow, you have to come up with $750 to fix the car. The potted rose is sitting on the deck, waiting patiently to be planted. You feel badly for it, so you water it (when you think of it) and commit to planting it next weekend.
By next week, it’s starting to wilt and is looking tired. You didn’t realize this would take so much of your time, so you desperately dig a hole somewhere, anywhere, and plant it there. The problem is, roses need sun (and lots of it) and the spot you picked for it is too shady. But that’s OK! You give it fertilizer, you give it special nutrients, and you weed it occasionally. Life is so busy!
But it never thrives. You think, “I bought the wrong rose” or “Those people at the Garden Store. I thought they were experts, but they obviously weren’t. They should have sold me lilies – they’re so much less bother!” And after a few years, the rose is stuck in a botanical limbo – neither living nor dead.
DON’T PUT YOURSELF IN THE WRONG SOIL AND EXPECT TO BLOOM
The Rose Expert did what Rose Experts do best. She gave you the correct rose – the perfect rose, in fact. She told you how to care for it, gave you detailed instructions on how to prepare the soil, how much sun it would need, how much it would need watering (and when). She coached you, patiently answered all your questions, and encouraged you to come in when you had problems.
GARDENS NEED TO BE WEEDED, NURTURED, AND LOVED
The relationship between Patient/Physician is the same. It’s my responsibility to give you the information you need to facilitate your healing.
And just like a gardener who dedicates herself to growing beautful flowers, it’s your responsbilitliy to cultivate the ideal environment in which you can thrive.
ONLY YOU CAN TILL THE EARTH
I can’t do the work for you. Only you can do the work for you.
REAP THE BENEFITS
I also can’t take credit for your achievements. They belong only to you.
Growing beautiful flowers is a labour (yes, a labour!) of love, patience, and nurturing. But what is more intoxicatingly beautiful than the scent of a prairie rose?
Over to you.
Does this resonate with you? If it did, I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to send me a quick e-mail. If you’d like to book an appointment, even better!
Would you like to hear whenever I publish a new blog post? Just scroll down until you see the e-mail icon on your left-hand side and receive inspired (and hopefully inspiring) e-mails when the muse strikes.