Finding A Path Through Illness

There’s no right or wrong way to cope with a treatable but incurable illness. But clear communication about needs and concerns is critical to helping you, the patient, secure both appropriate medical care and emotional support. The Difficult Conversations Workbook uses video of fellow patients’ reflections as a framework for guided writing exercises designed to help you identify and communicate your hopes and goals for treatment and beyond.

Our “paradigm changing” programs educate communities about the patient’s role in opening difficult and meaningful conversations with family and healthcare providers. Learn More

Celia Engel Bandman
The Illusion of Caring—is That Enough?
January 6, 2019 at 10:20 am · Filed under communication, family & friends, healthcare professionals, Patients

I recently stumbled upon a writing exercise completed by a patient who participated in the “Writing is Good Medicine”TM, program, which I created to help patients put words to their experience of living with illness. Participants were encouraged to share their writing with family and healthcare providers in order to open communication about issues and concerns. For one exercise I posed the question, “What do you expect from your doctors?”

A patient, who I will refer to as Diane, wrote, “Some patients seem to have unrealistic expectations but a real need to know that someone cares about them and their problems. In a way they may be asking their doctor to create the illusion that he or she cares. Although this concept has an element of comic relief, the effort and time a doctor spends listening to a patient and creating a sense that the patient has been adequately cared for develops a win-win situation for both doctor and patient. Especially, if the patient believes that he or she has been cared for and the doctor feels fulfilled in that the patient has been helped. The initial thought of creating an illusion becomes an actual act of caring.” 

Diane’s words made me think about basic elements for building a meaningful doctor-patient relationship. She seems to be implying that the act of listening can create an illusion of caring, which may be enough for her. Yet, Diane’s view overlooks aspects of a doctor-patient relationship that may be important to others. Of course, satisfaction or disappointment with care would depend on your expectations. Is the act of listening enough? If not, what do you expect from your doctor?

Questions Only God Can Answer
November 28, 2018 at 10:12 am · Filed under communication, healthcare professionals, Patients, Uncategorized
In the early 2000’s the Center for Communication in Medicine created a program for physicians at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center titled “Doctors Conversation Hour.” ...

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The most important questions don't seem to have ready answers. But the questions themselves have a healing power once they are shared.
Rachel Naomi Remen, MD
Kitchen Table Wisdom