Moving Us Closer To Osler
A Miller Coulson Academy of Clinical Excellence Initiative

Anybody but the Chiefs


Was Osler a sports fan? I don’t know, but I do know that connecting over a shared love of sports has helped me be “closler” to my patients. Maybe it can for you too! 

“He’s not going to like you going in there.” 

“He’s going to refuse everything.” 

“He’s . . . well, he’s something, alright.” 


This was what my clinical team had to say about the patient who was admitted to me overnight. And so I had a vague sense of apprehension as I approached his room. Nevertheless, and especially knowing his diagnosis of dementia, I gave him the benefit of the doubt.   


I sanitized, knocked, and entered. His affect was concordant with the medical team’s comments. At a loss, I looked around his room and saw his TVSportsCenter! We were amid the NFL playoffs, so I asked, “Who’s your team?”  


He slowly replied, “Broncos . . .”  


“Ah, ABC?” I asked. “Anybody But the Chiefs! Am I right?” 


A smirk, then a smile.  “That’s right, doc!” 


For the rest of the patient’s stay, every time I entered his room, I was met with a smile. We spoke both of the overnight events of his health, and the overnight events in sports. Gone were the comments from his nurses and cross covering physicians that opened this essayall because I recognized that my patient’s allegiance was to a team in the AFC Westa team whose rival beat them out for a playoff spot.   


Sports can be a great topic to connect with a patient about. You may not like sports, but if your patient does, it may help you to learn about current events in sports, just as you would learn the new COPD guidelines. This, of course, is not unique to the subject of sports, it’s just the example I used. Be observant.  Discover what your patient is watching, reading, or listening to, and learn a little about it.   









This piece expresses the views solely of the author. It does not necessarily represent the views of any organization, including Johns Hopkins Medicine.