Not just patients, but people make decisions based on trust. Whether among friends, peers or competitors, trust builds most relationships. How do we get it? Where do we get it? The answer is really very simple. Trust is within us.
When you open your heart and display the passion it holds and in the vernacular that you’re most comfortable with, people become empathetic to your cause and concern. Scripting mostly lacks this component. I tell my students to be themselves and let their patients realize the genuine article. Whether you are unpretentious and humble or gregarious and expressive, I believe you should let your patients (or potential patients) identify with your commonness and pride in that. It doesn’t matter if you will treat laborers or royalty, rich or poor. Everyone wants a doctor they can trust.
So often, people attempt to be something they’re not, to impress their classmates or colleagues, and claim recognition and wealth to “keep up with the Joneses.” I think that shows. However, patients’ confidence in you is a by-product of how much they trust you. That trust then elevates your own confidence in yourself.
I would rather hear a heartfelt and honest consultation from a doctor that seems concerned for my well being than one from a doctor who has his thoughts memorized in a way that sounds eloquent and articulate in an attempt to persuade me to accept treatment. But that’s just me. I believe being yourself and being genuine are two of the most important things you can do to gain trust.
When my patients came in for care, they came in knowing that I was going to be brutally honest, but compassionate to their plight. They came in knowing that I may not know all the answers or use all the clinical rhetoric, but I was going to go to extraordinary lengths to help them. Many became my friends eventually, as well as patients. They trusted me and my motives. It isn’t now and never was about the money. It has always been about serving. Until you’ve put others’ suffering ahead of your own success, you can’t know the joy and satisfaction and even rewards derived from the purpose of your life. It is, quite simply, astonishing.
It is difficult to make mistakes when you’re being yourself. You are who you are, not who you fantasize to be. Patients shouldn’t see multiple personalities: one for the office and one for the local restaurant or gas station or grocery store. You should always be the same, and treat everyone equally. That speaks volumes about your heart. Truth, honesty and intent aren’t just words to be displayed on your office wall, but rather, they’re words to live by. This is what sets us apart from other disciplines. We want to spend time with our patients and get to know them and their problems and victories. I knew my patients’ spouses, their children and their pets’ names. I worried about them and celebrated with them.
We should all look inward to find our own truth. We should connect to that truth and let it become an integral part of our fabric, as people and as professionals. We should put our patients first. The time is long past due that we reap the benefits of a lengthy struggle of being human caregivers. Unchanging, for the most part, is our dedication and commitment to the premise that the body’s innate intelligence is intact.
As new and soon-to-be practitioners, it should be your goal to stay natural and be yourself, not try to be something or someone you’re not. Have you ever noticed how a patient looks at you when you turn and face him or her and engage in meaningful conversation? It’s so unexpected by the patient, and contrary to the norm. Being yourself and being genuine are what sets you apart.