Do As I Say Not As I Do?
Posted by isntshelovlei on January 6, 2011
According to the CDC, almost thirty-four percent of adults in the U.S. are obese. Surely that figure includes some of our doctors and nurses. In the shift from “sick care” to “health care,” or a more preventative health care model, we should be seeing a lot more patient education. But as a patient, how do you think I am going to look at you when you sit me down for the weight loss speech: chastising my diet/eating habits, telling me I need to increase my physical activity…if your BMI is just as high if not higher than my own? Isn’t that like the pot calling the kettle black?
Then at higher risk for heart attack and stroke we have our smokers, and more than twenty percent of adults in America smoke. If I’m a cardiac patient and you’re doing my discharge teaching and telling me how much I really need to kick the stick yet anyone standing within three feet of you knows that’s not perfume you’re wearing but more like eau de cigarette…I mean really…no wonder so much patient education just goes in one ear and out the other.
I’m not saying that health care professionals need to be perfect—totally abstaining from all smoking, drinking, and drugs (I mean what would I do without my caffeine?), and only eating tree bark and berries, after all, we’re human too, but shouldn’t we be a little healthier—or at least striving to be? What exactly is our responsibility (if any) to our patients here? Are we obligated to set any kind of example? Most of us are willing to inject foreign substances into ourselves all in the name of our “duty” to our patients. It seems to me that losing a few pounds or quitting smoking is a lot less invasive…
When faced with health care decisions patients will oftentimes turn to the health care provider and ask “if it were you, what would YOU do?” That’s because we’re the “professionals,” we’re more familiar with the most up-to-date research, we’re supposed to know what’s best (or at least be able to make an evidenced-based recommendation). Patients tend to look at their HCP as sort of a health role model. But when we don’t seem to be making healthy lifestyle choices ourselves, do we lose our credibility as patient educators?
Maybe a little practicing what we preach is in order…