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Do You Speak Patient?: An Actionable Journal for Credible Medical Professionals

by Doc Philip Brown


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Why join the medical profession in the first place? For many medical professionals, the drive is a powerful desire to conquer disease combined with a solemn covenant to care for people — fellow human beings — to the best of one’s abilities and judgments. This sense of purpose combined with the fulfillment obtained through complex problem solving becomes a powerful motivator that allows one to push the limits of personal growth during education and training.

After medical school, residency training and fellowship, or one of the many educational tracks in healthcare, professionals set out to deliver quality healthcare, often with inadequate early mentorship. Then somewhere along the way, the burning passion and motivation that initially provided all the energy necessary to make a difference in the lives of others gets replaced with a sense of frustration and futility. Once this pattern emerges, the template for personal trauma is in place. Until that pattern is interrupted, the risk to both professional and patient is on an escalating trend line. Danger is near.

I wish I could claim to have THE answer, a single path forward to navigate away from the abyss. But the truth is much more modest. What I do have is a simple mental model that has helped me reconnect to purpose. I am going to share it with you in hopes that your version will help you. For me, when I think back to all the patient visits that began with me saying, “TELL ME,” the acronym takes me directly to that sense of purpose. You see, “TELL ME” was always an invitation. “TELL ME how things are going,” or “TELL ME what brings you in today” provided a powerful opening for my patient to talk, and for me to listen. The connection soon followed, yet “TELL ME” has always been the start. In this book, I will explain what “TELL ME” has come to represent for me.

T is for Trust - the foundation of relationship between professionals and patients.
E is for empathy - the ability to truly see from another’s perspective.
L is for listen - the only path to know what the patient wants and hopes for their care.
L is for limit constraints - only by understanding them first are we able to successfully navigate them.
M is for maintain health - the easier path to wellness is to go forward and not take steps backward.
E is for eliminate barriers - some barriers to care can’t be worked around, they must be removed.

The acronym is simple, but not always easy to do. As we go through each chapter, I will highlight some of the “AHA” moments that have occurred to me during my career. It is my hope that these simple representations will stimulate thinking so that you are able to attach your career experiences to the framework. As that happens, it is my hope that your sense of purpose can be refueled in meaningful ways, that you can find ways to ignite others, and that we all move a little closer to understanding how much we count on each other for health and quality of life as we strive to help others overcome their most difficult life challenges. And of course, as has always been the case, “TELL ME” is just a beginning.