As a kid I loved sneaking around. That is how I discovered that Santa was not who brought the gifts at Christmas. I liked making new discoveries spending endless hours in the woods tromping around with the other little rebels. Kids really do have a secret: they are much bigger than adults realize. They hold a big connection to the world around them, have big hearts and even bigger dreams of being a superhero. That may explain why some people choose to go into medicine even though they are little, come from a little town, with little means other than a big why. Why bother to make a difference if the world is a dark, dreary and dreadful place with such an overwhelming amount of pain and suffering? Somehow a flame got ignited inside, perhaps by a teacher, an elder or a circumstance. Once that happens then you will do anything to graduate medical school so that you shine a little brighter and by sheer determination be a little braver. You have no choice even it means that your very self gets burned in the process, because you have a secret. So what is the secret? I think the secret is that I dare to look.
It may come as a surprise to some that when a doctor uses the word “medicine,” they are referring to the science of healing. Yes, there are in fact two completely different definitions for the same word. Medicine, the care and healing of the soul and body, is not the same as the pill that is popped in your mouth. Understanding this dual meaning can help us to see why patients and doctors can have trouble communicating with each other. Confusing isn’t it? Especially today in 21st century America where television and print media allow drug companies to advertise directly to you, the consumer.
Who knew that medicine was the process of coming to understand yourself and your needs? Who knew that with the help of a skillful physician, you can get stronger and happier? Who knew that getting better wasn’t just a quick fix?
Getting from A to B is a process that takes time and work. It requires both the patient and the doctor to contribute equally to find and create what works for the benefit of the patient. We are equal partners in that I know one piece of the puzzle (medicine) and you know one piece (yourself). We have equal say in making shared decisions. Lastly, we have an equal stake in achieving a good outcome. If you are willing to help me to help you, we can both enjoy victory.