Team is a potentially powerful word. It makes us think of a number of positive things: strength, goals, accountability, potential, spirit, togetherness, cheer, and being the best. We have very high expectations about our sports teams and complain bitterly when a player does not seem to be “pulling their weight” on the field or on the floor. We get angry when we watch games and the team does not seem to be cohesive and plays aren’t carried out correctly.
So, here’s a question, why don’t we think of team in the same way when it comes to our healthcare? We talk about healthcare teams, but I feel like patients often think of this as a group of people who are in charge or responsible for their healthcare. Somehow they leave themselves out of the equation as a responsible or accountable party for their own health and well- being. Why? Is it easier to blame the doctor when you have health issues, instead of participating in your health care plan? Does this kind of thinking actually lead to better results? Do patients actually benefit from this? I think not.
I have a physician colleague who always says to patients, “I am a physician, not a magician.” When I first heard this, I almost laughed out loud because it sounded corny and ridiculous. But you know what? He has a point. I get what he is trying to say. I may not phrase it the same way, but my intent is the same. The doctor patient relationship needs to be a team effort to be successful. There needs to be active engagement and participation on both sides to achieve maximum benefit. I have patients that come in every day and say, ” Doc, I need you to fix me.” This raises an immediate red flag for me. This means that the patient is not engaged, is looking for an easy solution, and is not ready to be accountable. It means that it is all up to me. Well, that just won’t do. I am not ready for that significant a burden, especially when I know that it won’t go well. It is just a waste of the patient’s time and my time. I can’t force them into caring about their health by my sheer force of will. I also can’t keep charging them money when I know that they are not actually following the care plan. I just can’t do it. ( I’m not in it for the money, remember?) The team concept is always the way to go. I like making plans together with patients. I like talking with them not to them or at them. I like knowing that they have thought about what they want, whether it is aesthetic goals or general women’s health goals. I like the thought of them realizing that when I remove their fat or tighten their skin, they are committed to maintaining their weight and fitness to keep the results that they want. I like making weight loss plans with them to help them try to lose weight in a way that makes sense and is manageable to them. I like to consider myself a resource and a guide, not a taskmaster by force. Have a fantastic day everyone!