I trained as a family medicine physician and obtained my MD from UCLA Medical School. There, the mentality has been to intervene to fix a specific medical problem, and less emphasis was placed on supporting the patient.
However, with more years under my belt, I can do more good by supporting my clients and patients instead of offering a fix.
Looking for a Fix
Some clients seek to have their problems solved for them; they hope to be fixed. But this can diminish their autonomy and lead to downstream problems.
Feeling so frustrated and drained is expected that you want someone to take over your care and solve your health problems.
Perhaps you’ve tried all sorts of diets and pills and interventions. Now, you are ready to give up because there seems to be no viable solution.
Patient support always results in better long-term outcomes than offering someone a quick medication or procedure.
Supporting my Heart Health Clients
Empowering my clients means spending long sessions side by side. They and I must understand the exact problem before looking for solutions.
Is the chronic swelling in the legs the problem, or is the underlying fear of heart failure that hasn’t been addressed?
When we support someone, we tell them they aren’t alone. We offer our expertise and resources to them and guide them on their journey.
Quick Fixes are Possible
A client of mine took a beta blocker medication for his hypertension which caused him major dizziness and weakness. He didn’t know this was the side effect of the medication and assumed it was high blood pressure.
We sat down and discussed the symptoms and reviewed his medications. He felt armed enough with the knowledge to bring up the medication side effects with his PCP, who changed it to an ACE-I medication.
The symptoms disappeared. Easy fix, right?
In some ways, it was an easy fix. But suppose we didn’t spend the time to talk about how beta-blockers work and what common side effects they have. In that case, it’s entirely possible he would have bounced from one medication to the next, never feeling like he had some control over his medical condition.
Western medicine can sometimes seem adversarial because physicians feel pressured to fix a clinical problem as soon as possible.
We fear a terrible outcome for our patients, so we take over the wheel. In the long run, this turns out to be an unhealthy patient-doctor relationship.
The intention is often good, but this has resulted in a healthcare system where the physician practices defensive medicine and the patient feels ignored.
Fostering patient autonomy starts with patient education. This empowers the individual and leads to better long-term relationships and health outcomes.