Yesterday while working in urgent care clinic, I had a great opportunity to talk the talk. I was with a man whose abdominal complaints we still haven’t figured out. While discussing the possibilities, he said, “You’re the doctor” — implying we should do whatever I think is best. I took a moment to share with him that I don’t know what’s best and that his insights are critical to help guide us. “YOU’RE the patient,” I said, smiling. We are a team.
A few patients later, I walked into another room, this time a young man was on his smart phone. “I’ve been researching this a lot,” he said, “and I think this is what’s going on with my shoulder.” I’m really good at talking the talk. However, when I heard this, my immediate reaction was: I’ll be the judge of that. I noticed that unspoken reaction of mine, and said something very different. We had a lovely interaction and I think he was right about his shoulder. But I’ve been reflecting on that initial reaction I had, and how engrained our expert-centric culture is. There’s a long path from talking the talk to walking the walk.