Utne Blogs > Mind and Body

Chocolate + Happy Doctors = Health Care Reform

 by Danielle Maestretti


Tags: Spirituality, mindful living, health care, health care reform, community-designed medicine, physicians, Spirituality and Health,

relaxing massageAfter 10 years as a doctor, Pamela Wible was burned out, “tired of being a factory physician, pushing pills and tests I didn’t always believe in,” she writes in a candid piece for Spirituality & Health (article not available online). “My soul was more than irrelevant; it slowed down the production line and got me into trouble with administrators.”

So she quit her job and held a big community meeting, asking attendees to describe what their ideal medical clinic would look like. And then she built it! (Warning: If you spend a lot of time in your doctor’s bland, hot tub–less waiting room, prepare to get very jealous.)

Clients can enjoy yoga; massage; a wheelchair-accessible, solar-heated saltwater pool; and a soak in the hot tub before their appointments. They relax on plush overstuffed chairs in a cozy office and look forward to warm exams as they’re wrapped in fun, flannel gowns. Antioxidant-rich chocolates and smiley-face balloons surprise the unsuspecting on random patient-appreciation days.

Most of would love to see health care look more like this, obviously, but what I really appreciate about Wible’s analysis is her emphasis on the comfort and well-being of both patients and physicians. Clearly, the health care system doesn’t work for either group, and seeing what’s wrong with the relationship from a self-aware physician’s perspective is incredibly illuminating:

Given that we all pledge to “first, do no harm,” why do we make physicians the first victims? While patients are encouraged to tell all, doctors must remain detached, sterile, untainted by emotions. No “irrelevant” personal anecdotes. No off-the-cuff commentary. Physician self-disclosure is a no-no. Decades of practicing professional distance—emotional and spiritual disconnect—destroys from the inside out. Who really wants to be treated by someone whose heart has died?

Source: Spirituality & Health 

Image by thomaswanhoff, licensed under Creative Commons.