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The Doctor-Patient Relationship: Part Two

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The Doctor-Patient Relationship: Part Two

I recently wrote about theDoctor-Patient Relationship of the broken, outdated, patriarchal health care system of The Old Medicine.

Today, Im going out on a limb to suggest a new kind of Doctor-Patient Relationship, the kind we will practice in The New Medicine. Here goes nothing.

It’s All About Collaboration

As doctor and patient, you and I are entering into a partnership. I will not give you orders because we will be collaborating, and your voice is as important as mine, if not more so. Because we will be partners, I feel it is important to clarify and agree upon what our relationship will entail, what you can expect of me, and what I expect of you.

I am here to support you, guide you, offer you tools, and support your process, but I will not fix you – for I don’t believe you are broken.

You Can Heal Yourself

I believe you already have within you the power to heal yourself. When we meet, I will hold up the mirror so you can see that you already have within you all that you need to have all that you want. This mirror will help you see what you need in order to optimize your wellness and happiness, so you can live the most joyous, vibrant, fulfilling, sexy, healthy life possible. Although I will support you in every way I can by educating you, giving you choices, answering your questions, and making recommendations, you are here to be the force behind your own healing. The body is made to self-diagnose and self-repair, and my job is to help you activate those self-healing superpowers. But you must do the heavy lifting yourself.

If you are not ready, willing, or able to heal yourself, I will be here to nurture and support you, but the process will be less powerful, with less powerful results.

I’m Not Blaming You

Im not blaming you for being sick, depressed, or otherwise in need of healing. I am not suggesting that you brought this upon yourself (and if you did, I will treat you with compassion, not judgment.)

Im also not suggesting that every illness or problem will be cured, either by your hands or by mine. Sometimes the Master Plan requires that illness – or even death – is inevitable. I believe that healing and curing are different, and that one can happen without the other. Although our goal will always be to achieve both, we will both understand that we must set goals, but release attachment to outcomes and surrender to Divine will. In this very surrender, healing lies.

We Are Equals

Although I spent many years training to earn the right to be your doctor, I am not better than you, and as such, I will treat you as a cherished equal. In order for our partnership to be successful, we must – absolutely must – respect each other. You will not put me on a pedestal, and I will not look down upon you. I will speak to you when we are both dressed and only leave you naked in the brief moments when I need to examine you. I will respect your privacy, honor your modesty, and invite you to put your clothes back on as soon as Ive done what I need to do.

I accept that my time is not more valuable than yours. As doctor and patient, we will respect each others time. I will not make you wait for your appointment, and you will not be late. We must be present, fully and completely, during our time together. This means we will both turn off cell phones, let go of distractions, and focus all of our energy on your health and healing.

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Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of theWhole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author ofMind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself. She is on a grassroots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself. Lissa blogs and also created two online communities She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.


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12:49AM PST on Jan 31, 2012

I enjoyed this article, but as many comments suggested a relationship with any doctor is a privilege... much less one that can be fostered enough to overcome engrained doctor-patient relationships this article is trying to repair..

11:01AM PDT on Aug 26, 2011

Thank you

8:27PM PDT on Jul 23, 2011

I guess in every field there is always some room for improvement?

11:14AM PDT on Jul 12, 2011

Oh how I wish you or doctors like you were in Orlando, FL. I'd be thrilled with if a doctor gave me that!

For Rachel Beckford, a patient should be investing a lot of time and energy into their health, after all it is their life. If a person does not invest in themselves, which is what you're doing when you sink a lot of time into your health, how can they expect to have a long, healthy life? A doctor can only figure out what is wrong with you if you are honest with both yourself and him/her. Not to mention, a doctor can prescribe something, whether meds or a healthier lifestyle with regular exercise, but she can't force you to actually follow it. You have to do that yourself. A doctor-patient relationship is nothing like the relationship you have with a car mechanic or carpenter. The first deals with you, the latter two deal with items entirely separate from your physical body. You tell the mechanic your car needs an oil change, he does it. Nothing else is needed on your part except to pay the bill. It doesn't work like that when it comes to a person's body. If the dr tells a patient that he has diabetes, it's then up to the patient to do what needs to be done to manage it. Only you can make you healthy, doctors are not miracle workers.

5:17PM PDT on Jul 9, 2011

Yes this is the United States not a country where the healthcare industry or the people living here for that matter really care deeply about health (money is what's important). Because I don't have insurance I don't have any relationship with a doctor because doctors treat those that pay upfront, on the spot like they don't want to see you in there office again. At most you are tolerated.. it's very strange. I'd like to just find a doctor that will take the time to even read through that 5 page form I so carefully filled out... at least glance at past/present illnesses and allergies to medications. Really at this point I've given up. I take care of myself and just hope I don't get really sick. I dream of moving somewhere more civilized.

1:27AM PDT on Jul 9, 2011

To be able to enjoy the kind of partner relationship you describe would, I fear, require an immense amount of work on the patients part. I know I'm not a partner with the person who fixes my car or the carpenter who builds items for my house so I'm not sure why I should have to invest a ton of time in preparation for a partnership with my doctor.

It would be very nice if in all our professional relationships we treated each other with due respect but I really don't see why the doctor/patient relationship should be any different than the other relationships I have in daily life.

If I handed this to my doctor I would be told to find another - my guess is the same would happen with the auto mechanic and the carpenter.

5:27PM PDT on Jul 8, 2011

go on to commit malpractice. I reported the most flagrant errors to the medical boards and authorities, but let the others slide. My advice to every patient is to obtain a second opinion in all cases involving the slighest doubt. Also, to demand that your physician explain to you what he or she plans and to do so in simple terms. Most people spend more time haggling over a used car sale than they do about their own heath. The difference is that you can always replace a clunker if you make a mistake, but if you err in taking care of yourself and pinning down the "salesman" (in this case, the MD) ...there ain't gonna be no other car for you ...EVER!

5:15PM PDT on Jul 8, 2011

I rather suspect that you are a compassionate physican, and, for that, I applaud you, but you're not a very scientific one. Your use of the terms "Master Plan", "Divine Will", Miracles", etc. leaves me, as a scientist, perplexed. As a physician, your task is to perform medical or surgical treatment...not spiritual, which can best be provided by the clergy. Your remark that your patients "should not put you on a pedestal" derives from what, exactly? Like 80% of the medical students to whom I taught comparative physiology, many of you physicians do, indeed, think that you are "gods in white coats". Any physician who denies that his or her mental powers are not superior to those of the vast majority of their patients is either deluded or hypocritical.
And you are right so to think insofar as your patients, in fact, are, on average, intellectually inferior. But, for heaven's sake, don't smear honey over the inequality in some mascarade of "patient-doctor pals cut from the same cloth." Question, Doctor.."How do you address your patients? By their first name? If so, have you given them permission to address you likewise? If not, you're putting yourself on a pedestal, like it or not. My having instructed hundreds of students who went on to obtain their MD degree, I can only say that I would be reluctant to allow more than 70% of them to treat me.... even for a bee sting! I've witnessed too many incompetent and rather stupid premedical students finally obtain MD degrees and

5:01PM PDT on Jul 8, 2011

This is the way I work with all of my health professionals and it is reassuring to learn that the practice is being promoted.

3:55PM PDT on Jul 8, 2011

Trust and confidence in a busy office full of needy, truly ill people? You'd need to have a really small select practice to be able to fulfill your contract. It sounds great though. Good luck. I wish you were my physician.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

I've never taken (and nevert will take) an insurance for pets. Thank you for the other tips anyway.

Thanks for sharing.

Goes to show animals are much smarter then they are given credit for! Loved it! Thanks for sharing!


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