The value of being human

Posted in: behavior change, human behavior, medicine, psychology- Sep 26, 2011 1 Comment

“In Dr. Siegler, I have had a doctor who is interested in my husband and me as persons, not just diseases — although we’ve confronted him with a few of them,” Kay Bucksbaum said. “I have so valued that. A special mark of Dr. Siegler’s character is his extreme kindness and interest in what makes us tick.” [Source: Chicago Sun Times]

The Bucksbaum’s recently donated $42 million to the University of Chicago Medical Center to improve the education in doctor-patient relationships. After reading their story, I couldn’t help but give a loud virtual “hallelujah” to them. Their story really hit home with me as I’ve had the great fortune to experience wonderful patient care and the misfortune to know the opposite.

John Cranshaw, MD

Michael D. Prados MD

I have known two great doctors in my time. Dr. Cranshaw and Dr. Prados. The first was my primary care physician for close to 15 years. The latter, my neuro-oncologist who I’ve seen once a year for the last 9 years. Two very different specialities in two very different settings but what they both have in common is the ability to make me feel heard—to ask “What’s going on with you?”, “How are you doing?”, “What do you think about _______?”. They expressed an honest interest in learning about who I was, how I was (outside of whatever condition brought me in), and most importantly, that the state of my life says more about of my state of health than simply checking off symptoms and taking vitals.

“To care for a patient,” Dr. Siegler said, “you have to care about a patient.” [Source: NY Times]

It seems so simple yet somehow the medical profession seems to quash any impulse towards real connection between the doctor and their patient. Perhaps out of fear of getting attached or losing impartiality. Perhaps it’s all the health insurance companies’ faults. Whatever’s to blame, I send a huge thank you to the Bucksbaums. Talk about paying it forward.

Pictures via of Dolhun Clinic and UCSF respectively