Friday, February 1, 2013

A Question to Healthcare Professionals

Do You Believe in Lifestyle change? Do you believe that it impacts disease? Yes? Then why is that so many of us relegate it to the arena of a second class citizen?

"Yeah right." "Yeah, like that's going to happen." "I don't think he/she can make that change." Ever hear these words or words like them roll of the tongue of a healthcare professional when lifestyle change - especially healthy diet is suggested? I have. I've shamefully said those words before I understood the power of lifestyle change. Then there's the silence, eye rolls - literal or figurative and arm crossing.

If we, as professionals don't believe it's possible for our patients to change then they don't have a chance. "Well, I'd never say that in front of the patient." you might think. But let me tell you, your body language screams just what your brain believes - even as you deliver your lifestyle change "talk." It's hard enough when someone believes you can do it and has a professional rooting for them. It's near impossible if it's labeled - verbally or silently - impossible.

Which came first; the prevaling attitude that people can't or won't change or our disbelieve that true change is possible? Think about it.

Best practices, best practices... Lifestyle change should be our first best practice. I'm not saying that medications, tests or procedures are never needed. I'm saying that if we made lifestyle change as important as it should be, we'd be on our way to a healthier nation and to controlling our run away medical costs.

Don't for a minute think I'm taking away the responsibility off the patient. Actually, I'm suggesting that we empower them to accept responsibility for their own self care and by extension their health and wellness. The power rests solely in their hands.

It's not easy if we're rooted in the old "take care of the patient mode. It's much easier once you move to the "empower the patient to take care of themselves mode." And yes, some will toss the responsibility back at us but many won't and success breeds success and on and on. Super simplified yes, but more is out of the scope of a simple blog.

My challenge to you is to think about your attitudes and beliefs around lifestyle change - for your patients, for your family, for you. Maybe it's time we healthcare workers began to lead by example.

And now I'll step away from the soapbox.

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