Monday, March 31, 2014

A Celebration of Doctors

     March 30 is National Doctor’s Day! Declared a national holiday by President George H. W. Bush in 1991, the goal of Doctor’s Day is to honor physicians for their compassion, hard work, and their leadership in the prevention and treatment of illness and injury.

     In the proclamation for Doctor’s Day, President Bush said, “More than the application of science and technology, medicine is a special calling, and those who have chosen this vocation in order to serve their fellow man understand the tremendous responsibility that it entails.”

     The proclamation highlighted the contributions of physicians such as Dr. Charles Drew, a pioneer in the field of blood transfusion, and Dr. Jonas Salk, who was essential in the development of the polio vaccine, but also sought to recognize the countless doctors who provide care to members of their communities throughout the United States.

     Though medicine, science and health care have changed throughout the years, establishing a strong relationship between doctor and patient has always been the primary goal for doctors practicing medicine for centuries.

     “Being a doctor is a privilege, people give you access to their innermost fears, feelings and wishes and do so in an atmosphere of trust,” says Dr. Shaheen Iqbal, M.D., Chief of Staff, Meritus Medical Center.

     Dr. Iqbal went on to say that it is important for patients to take control of their health.

     “You cannot afford to take anything about your health for granted,” Dr. Iqbal said. “Educate yourself, and seek rapid help. This can be a very powerful thing for your health.”

      Dr. Iqbal also said that while it is easy to become intimidated during a doctor’s appointment, it is important for patients to speak up, and ask for clarity, if they don’t understand what the doctor is telling them.

     Dr. Iqbal recommends that before leaving a doctor’s appointment, patients should ask themselves the following three questions, and repeat the answers to their health care provider, in their own words, to be sure that they fully understand what the doctor is saying:
  • What is my main problem or concern? 
  • What do I need to do? 
  • Why is it important for me to do this? 

     With any relationship, clear and consistent communication is essential. Here are some additional tips to establish and maintain a positive relationship between you the patient, and your health care provider.

Communicate with your doctor
     Doctors will be able to address your medical concerns if you are open and honest with them. Sharing your medical history, being open and up-front with your daily activities such as smoking, exercise routine, eating habits etc., will allow your doctor to best determine what you need as an individual, and come up with the best health care plan for you.

Find a primary care physician that you are comfortable with
     In order for you to be open and honest with your doctors, it is important to be comfortable talking with them. You may have to spend some time, and try a few doctors, before you feel at ease discussing your medical issues. The time that it takes to find a doctor that you are comfortable with is an investment in your future health.

Come to all appointments with you doctor prepared
     Write down a list of questions or concerns that you want to discuss with your physician. This can help you feel more relaxed, and this allows you to take an active role in your care. Some doctors recommend bringing all medications with you to your appointment in a bag, but at the least, it may be a good idea to write down all of the medications that you are taking, especially if you go to doctors who are specialist such as a cardiologist or neurologist in addition to your primary care physician. By doing this, all of your doctors are on the same page, and can provide you with the best treatment possible.

      As the guardians of health care and essential members of the medical community, physicians play a significant role in maintaining our health. By celebrating their service and dedication to helping others, and working with them to assist in our care, we all can have a happy, healthy future.

By Mark H. Russ 

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