My new patient had just left his family doctor after 15 years. When I asked why, he said, “The doctor came into the room, looked at my chart, and told me I needed to lose weight, lower my cholesterol, and stop smoking. I looked at the 300-pound doctor who smelled of smoke and said, ‘Really?’ ”
How can we empower our patients to make healthy choices when we don’t always make these choices ourselves? Here’s one possibility: Invite them to join us in the struggle.
Last year, my practice created “Run 5K or Walk 1 Mile With Your Doctor” as a way to encourage both patients and medical professionals to get healthy. We also invited patients to join us in a walking/running club to prepare for the event. More than 200 people showed up, including physician assistants, nurses, nurse practitioners, medical assistants, respiratory therapists, family doctors, internists, office staff, cardiologists, orthopedists, and patients. In addition to raising heart rates, we also raised $7000 for the American Heart Association (AHA). This year we plan to merge the event with the annual AHA walk in September. I encourage all health care professionals to do the same.
As physicians, we can’t just talk the talk in the examining room. We should also walk the walk and show our patients that we’re right there in the trenches with them.
Elizabeth Khan, MD