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Why do you care?

People like to know about their healthcare professional. Do you have a brief story about how it all began? Consider the setting? The year, the circumstances in which you set off on the path. What was the challenge? What issues or circumstances made you feel less sure of the path you were on at the time? What was the turning point? What chance encounter or experience ultimately made the option you chose the right one?  How do you feel about what you do? It shouldn’t take more than two minutes, if that. Rehearse the story.

Picture by Björn Engqvist

What do you share about yourself that’s a safe topic?

Health warning:

As a doctor, the reality is you are never off duty and their status in the public eye demands a high standard of conduct at all times. Dr Naeem Nazem 

At some point someone will ask you where you went on holiday or why you have a model airplane on your shelf. You can choose to be very ‘private’ or have something you might find increases the connection with that person without befriending them on Facebook.

Physicians aged 40 to 59 years report that they most enjoy running or jogging (36%), bicycling (35%) and camping or hiking (24%). About 50% of physicians older than 60 years reported walking to stay healthy.  Other interests include golf, aerobics and cardio, skiing, tennis and fishing. Other leisure activities reported include reading, with many physicians describing themselves as avid readers; regular reading was reported by more than half of physicians under 40 years, 58% of those aged 40 to 59 years and more than 64% of those aged 60 years and older. Endocrinology advisor

The trick is not raising topics that should be off limits but it makes you more human if your client, customer or patient knows you are an avid reader, you play golf or sing in the choir. You can prompt the chat by having a prop for something that you are happy to share. My doctor has a picture of a civet cat in his room. I’d love to know why,  he tells me everyone asks him about the cat.

Picture by  Daniel Colovini  

Are you worried they’ll never stop talking?

It’s a busy day at work and the next customer, client or patient settles in to tell you something. Are you secretly asking yourself:

 How long will this take?

Will it pay off allowing them to take a couple of minutes to speak about whatever’s on their mind? Have you tried it and timed how long before they stop?

Studies have even shown that participants are willing to give up between 17% and 25% of the monetary reward offered for talking about others in order to feel the intrinsic rewards of talking about themselves. And outside of the lab, 40% of our everyday speech is devoted to telling other people how we feel or what we think. That’s almost half! Belle Beth Cooper

So if you want to do something special for your client, customer or patient give them a chance to say what they want- you might be surprised that it doesn’t take that long and pays enormous dividends.

Picture by Stiller Beobachter

How will your respond to the next ‘big idea’?

You can bet that just around the corner there will be another ‘break though’ in healthcare.

A new drug will be launched, a new procedure will be advertised, a new expert will pop up claiming to have found a cure. It won’t take much, just swallow the pill as often as they recommend and see the magic for yourself.

So if you are in healthcare you will find yourself subject to advertising, information, journal articles, patient enquiries and it seems Dr. Google’s recommendations.

The neatly packaged product will promise anything from increasing longevity, symptom relief and possibly enhanced function if only you would prescribe it for the next person with this condition that you see in your clinic.

It isn’t a case of might, its a case of when this happens.  How will your respond?

Although in the majority of critical incidents GPs considered initial information inadequate and used further evidence or colleague opinion before prescribing, in many incidents GPs relied heavily on the pharmaceutical industry as the major information source. This is disquieting since information from representatives may be misleading, biased, contain inaccuracies that doctors fail to recognize and encourage less rational prescribing. Prosser et al

Picture by  malik ml williams

How do you sneak work home with you?

You might not bring a sheaf of paperwork home, you might turn of your mobile devices and never carry your customer, client or patient home in a bag. But you might covertly bring them home in your cranium.

So you never actually leave work. Those at home notice that you are ‘absent’. Yet you won’t actually achieve anything because the conversations you are having in your head aren’t real. The videos you are watching in your head are imagined. You are already back at the office even as you board that bus or pull out of the carpark. Your performance at work tomorrow will suffer as a result. It could be framed as irresponsible, unsustainable and not conducive to the best results tomorrow. It’s also your choice. Not your employer’s.

As part of creating this new, healthier environment, engage other people to help you. Ask your friends and family members to help you stay away from work. Give them permission to remind you to put your phone away (and don’t get annoyed with them when they do). Find activities you can do with them that prevent you from working and that distract you from work-related thoughts.

Step away from work — and watch disaster not strikeEven if you do create these plans and an environment conducive to seeing them through, you still need to be willing to disconnect from work for a period of time. That can be anxiety-provoking. After all, you might miss an important email; something could go wrong; important work might be done badly or not done at all. Art Markman

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Your fists stop swinging where my nose starts

You complain when people are rude, late, unreasonable, inconsiderate or selfish. However to what extent does this reflect your messages to them? Might you be suggesting:

It’s Okay. I’m easy. My feelings don’t matter. I can cope. I’ve got broad shoulders. I don’t really expect much. It’s okay to vent.

But could it be that you are actually saying:

Please like me. You can hurt me. I’m scared of you. I need you to be nice to me. I’m weak. I have no confidence. I am disposable.

What Amy Morin suggests writing in Forbes magazine makes sense:

Encourage employees to speak up when they’re frustrated, confused, or nervous. Invite them to share their opinions through the correct forums, however. Airing their grievances to any co-worker who is willing to lend an ear does more harm than good.

Address rude behavior when you see it. Ignoring sarcasm in an email or allowing disrespectful comments to be exchanged in an email chain sends the wrong message. Make it clear that you value direct communication.

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Does your equipment work?

Everyone has equipment in their office that they take for granted right? But are we sure that equipment works? The stethoscope is the most iconic of instruments used by healthcare professionals. Our research suggests that people are far more trusting of an individual wearing a stethoscope. But does that equipment always work? If you are in healthcare when did you last service your stethoscope? Is it possible that it might be unreliable?

Picture by Marco Verch

What are you selling?

Whatever your role in life you are ‘selling’. That might be obvious because you work in a shop or own a factory but less obvious if you work in a clinic, office or a hospital. According to Dan Pink white-collar workers now spend an enormous portion of their time persuading, influencing, and moving others. He would argue that everyone is in sales.

So if that’s how you choose to frame your role in healthcare what are you selling? What do you spend your time persuading people to do? How effective is your sales technique? How do your product works? How do you know it is in anyone’s best interests to buy what you sell?

Dan Pink says it well:

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Are drugs always needed?

There is some evidence that housework helps anxiety and depression.

So if you are a healthcare professional would you suggest that doing simple chores at home might help more than drugs? How do you bring that up in the conversation?

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Is there such a thing as simple administrative task?

Jane was invited back to have a repeat colonoscopy ( examination of the bowel). Her specialist wasn’t happy that he had a clear view through her bowel last year and he couldn’t be completely reassuring. Meantime Jane had noticed a change in her bowel habit and was now worried.

So she made an appointment with her doctor who practiced several suburbs away. It is a vagary of the system that although the specialist invited her back she had to get a letter from her family doctor to accept the invitation. Her doctor didn’t ask whether she was worried about it or why she had made an appointment that particular day given that the specialists note to her was a month ago. He simply wrote:

This lady needs a repeat colonoscopy as per your previous records. Thank you for seeing her again.

Two minutes later she was handing her credit card to the receptionist and walking out of the building.

Lost opportunity. Is there such a thing as a simple administrative chore or what we choose to make of an opportunity presented to practice our art?

Picture by madamepsychosis