A Tale of Two Healthcare Professionals

A Tale of Two Healthcare Professionals

Coming back from a recent visit to my dentist I had some thoughts about my experience. Over the course of my life I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing different kind of healthcare professionals. Some have been “in your face” pushing their “agenda, while others have used people skills to get their message across softly.

I’ll give you an example. Last year while I was still a lardass, I was at my local hospital for regular treatment for a condition. A nurse told me to eat an apple if I wanted something sweet, as opposed to other sources of sweetness. I immediately has a visceral negative emotional reaction. Inside my head I chastised the nurse. “Who the hell are you to tell me what to eat?!”.

You don’t need a Ph.D. in nutritional science in order to know that the nurse gave me sound advice. I probably should have listened and changed my diet. I eventually ended up doing so later, but not as a consequence of this interaction with the nurse. I’ve also many times been told by dentists to make sure I floss. I always nodded my head dutifully, followed their advice for a couple of days and then… You get the picture.

Back to my latest dentist appointment. The dentist told me that things in general looked good with a couple of exceptions. Nothing to worry about, I’ll take care of it. He gradually fixed several cavities, extracted a wisdom tooth and applied a crown. This one visit turned into four. By any objective standard the condition of my teeth was a shitshow.

His expert use of good people skills made me want to come back, and I didn’t emotionally feel that the condition was terrible in terms of my dental hygiene. I’ve also dutifully applied his advice to my dental health routine. I find the comparison between the apple nurse and the dentist to be very interesting.

I’m not saying that doctors should always sugar-coat the truth, but I went for a long time between my last dentist appointment and this recent excursion due to my next to last dentist being completely devoid of people skills. She berated me verbally and was not in any personable mood at all. That was a complete turnoff.

If I’m going to extract a kind of moral to the story, it would have to be something along the lines of healthcare professionals needing two skillsets. First, they obviously need competence in their field of work. But secondly, they need to be well versed in interpersonal skills. Good advice is useless if it isn’t followed. Healthy food is not healthy for you if it goes unconsumed. Only the combination of these two skillsets will lead to personal development and better health outcomes.

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