There is no greater reward than the gratitude of a patient you've helped to heal.
Sir William Osler wrote, “The good physician treats the disease, the great physician treats the person who has the disease.”
Like Osler, I believe that patient care is much more than the disease itself. There is the patient, the patient’s life, and the family.
For me, patient care should be comprehensive, personal, and patient-centered, focusing on the many aspects of the individual to include physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual.
Patient care is keeping the patient at the heart of what I do each and every day and always going above and beyond to meet the needs not only of the patient but also his/her family.
It means being there for the patient—listening, comforting, supporting, respecting, and encouraging—when scared, nervous, confused, and stressed—in times of need—and when happy —and basing clinical decisions on patient preferences. It includes advocating, educating, counseling, and coordinating care. It involves being dedicated to learning and studying to optimize medical care.
As a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Physician, I care for patients who have a variety of medical illnesses and/or injuries, pain syndromes, and a decline or even a total loss of function. The onset may be insidious, acute, or chronic—and full restoration of function may or may not be possible.
I work to partner with the patients and their families to aid them in adjusting to the medical condition, impairment(s), activities, and participation limitations and often to a life of chronic illness and disability.
As Osler implied when describing the “great” physician, the complete story must be acknowledged.
Patients present with different histories, beliefs, goals, wishes, needs, roles, and responsibilities.
More recently, I saw a patient in the office with weakness and cognitive changes that had been ongoing for many months. Prior to symptom onset, she had been very active exercising and volunteering several days a week. She was driving and able to care for herself.
When I met the patient, she was functionally at a point where she was unable to get off of a toilet without physical assistance and thus could not go out to a public establishment. She was only able to walk a few steps with an assistive device. She was essentially home bound, socially isolated, and functioning at a wheelchair level. The patient had seen multiple doctors but due to her complex medical history and other clinical manifestations, a unifying diagnosis had not been established.
At the visit, the patient expressed wanting to give up. After listening to the patient and her husband and understanding the context of her medical condition, I ordered several diagnostic tests and a diagnosis was established and treatment was initiated. The patient has since made a remarkable recovery. Watching this transformation has been absolutely incredible. At each visit, the patient and her husband express their gratitude.
Great physicians differ from good physicians and as such, I strive to follow an Osler Model each and every day.