A friend had asked me to see one of her neighbors. A young child with some elimination issues, the family had been to a couple of other doctors with no success. A fairly routine problem that needed the right evaluation and a consistent approach, it was sorted out in 2-3 visits.
When I ran into my friend a month later, I was met with hugs and thanks for everything I had done. “They loved you. They said you listened and took time with them. Mom even showed me a picture of the white board. Thank you so much for working with them.”
I chuckled and remarked, “That’s just what we do.” My slightly sarcastic response went over her head.
Amazing is only skin deep
There’s a tendency for physicians to bask in these shallow ‘success stories.’ Just like when patients label you as the best. I consider that everything I did is what’s expected of me. It should be the standard. Treating children with elimination disorders is my job. Thus the half-sarcasm.
Of course it’s not all rainbows and unicorns.
Clearly there are people I can’t connect with. Every clinical relationship is a relationship and some work better than others for reasons beyond my control. I also have days when my energy and bandwidth are strained. And there are those not focused on seeing their own (or child’s) problem through. This is the reality of humans treating humans.
Taking small steps toward being an amazing doctor
In the end what might be seen as a heartwarming reunion with a friend whose friend I helped shed light on the fact that the bar for patient experience has been set dangerously low.
Circumstances have conspired that make it challenging for doctors to be seen as amazing by those who need to be amazed. We face increasing demands for quality, productivity and safety (health care’s Clinical Trifecta). Despite this we need to rise above and do our best to create better experiences for our patients.
What are you doing to raise the bar? And what will it take for patients to describe your care as amazing?
Modified image of Edwin Lord Weeks’ The Doctor’s Visit, circa 1903 via Flickr.