Be glad there is no picture attached to this blog. If there were one, it would have to be of Connie and me on our way to see the doctor. Red eyes, runny noses, that “Oh no, not another coughing spell” look on our faces. You get the idea, I’m sure. Although there is nowhere to fit this post into one of my usual categories of faith, family, finances, fishing or furry friends, I just can’t pass up this opportunity to share some thoughts. (Ok, that was a “shameless plug”. Sorry Rick and Bubba).
First of all, let me give some well deserved credit and a “Thank You” to our long-time family doctor Will Crouch and his staff in Hartselle, AL. I’m talking 40 years. They have ALWAYS treated us with great respect, been more than willing to take time to answer questions and have given us top notch medical care every time.
Wednesday morning we made the decision to go to a “doc-in-a-box” facility to save ourselves the drive from Athens to Hartselle. Big mistake on our part. Don’t get me wrong. We received the medications we needed and the medical care was up to par. But, the wait in the exam room was excessive and when the doctor did arrive, he was totally in robot mode. I admit, we have been spoiled and I am thankful for this experience to allow us to recognize the blessing our doctor is for us.
The title of the blog is a direct quote made to Connie by another patient in the waiting room. Of course, that struck a particular nerve for me after treating dogs for so many years. So, tell me, who treats their dog “like a dog” anymore? I have no idea who that lady was, but I have to wonder if she owns a dog, or cat for that matter. Most pet owners these days would agree with me that when it comes to expressing sincere care for patients and their “people”, no one does it better than a veterinarian. After all, that is at the heart of why we all became animal doctors in the first place. I cannot express the amount of pleasure it gives to me to encounter a former client/friend with whom I share fond memories of days and pets in the past. All the veterinarians I know get their basic motivation to practice every day from relationships. Yes, double the pleasure with a pet and people relationship. I truly still cringe at the times I had to keep a client and pet waiting longer than either of us liked. Some of my favorite quotes when I finally came into the exam room: “How was your vacation?”; ” I celebrated a birthday while I was waiting!”; “I think Fluffy is too old for that puppy vaccine now”. But I do hope each one heard my sincere apology whenever it was unavoidable. It takes time and skills to develop those relationships. I required work on that all the way through my career. But, I have to say, it was fun and rewarding most of the time.
Yes, I want people to appreciate veterinarians and the work they do every day. So many people do appreciate it, and for each one I am grateful. But if i may I would encourage you to step it up a notch. And when they fall short in some way, please give them the respect to talk it over, keeping in mind I truly believe you can trust their heart.
Back to our visit with the doctor this morning. I do not want to assume anything bad about him, either. I am certain that if I could see “behind it all” there are logical and clear reasons for the lack of relationship in patient care. The scary part is, in the end, patients have a lot to do with it. Apparently many have come to expect medical care at the same speed as the internet and about as much interaction as we get at a drive-through window. I realized today I am not one of those folks. And beyond all this, what effect is the Affordable Health Care Act having on personalized health care? I, for one, am concerned about it because of the possible diminished attraction of good people into the medical field. As they say, “It ain’t rocket science” to do the math. Fewer doctors at a time when there are more patients (remember us “baby boomers”) and that adds up to less time to spend developing relationships with patients.
Well, I’ve already learned that a blog is similar to a sermon in a way a former pastor described his sermons. He always said, “A sermon is like a stick of bologna; you can cut it off wherever you want to.” So, please allow me to summarize what I learned today from our “quick visit” to a close by doctor.
1) Obviously a renewed appreciation for our long-time family doctor and his entire staff. It IS worth the drive to Hartselle!
2) A rude awakening concerning where health care in general could be headed in the USA.
3) A sense of pride in my colleagues in veterinary medicine. I pray that “social pressures” will never damage the avenues of relationship building between veterinarians, clients and pets.
It would please me to read your thoughts.