MD’s With Empathy…..The Real Key To Patient Compliance

start empathy

Medscape just published an article titled “For Noncompliant Patients, a Fix That Works”. I often read posts on this website, to stay informed of the latest medical breakthroughs, treatments, and health issues and feel they are one of the most credible and informative sources out there on the web today.  I have several chronic health challenges, not the least of which is being an ashamed educated smoker…..which surely complicates all the other health problems I have as well as being a problem on its own. Addiction is a tricky thing. I have tried without success yet several times to quit smoking, so in this respect I suppose I am a noncompliant patient……which made the article piqué my curiosity.

Many doctors over the years have approached the topic of quitting smoking with me. The talk usually goes like this: “Well,are you still smoking?”. Yes I say. “You are slowing your body’s healing process and constricting your blood vessels by continuing this. You need to quit.” I know I say to myself silently, as my eyes lower their gaze towards the floor. “Here, take this pamphlet. There is a quitline phone number on the back of it to give you options on how to quit. So, how is your pain today?” And the discussion ends just like that. Now don’t get me wrong… is certainly not the doctors fault that I haven’t been successful at quitting yet, only mine.  It is noteworthy though that this is typical of most doctor patient conversations of this type.

This article recognizes that many patient noncompliance discussions are just not done in the ideal way. Whether it is an issue like mine, or taking lifesaving medicine as directed, or changing other lifestyle habits that directly impact health and mortality there is an overall sense of frustration. Enter a new approach that doctors can take with their patients…’s called motivational interviewing. I quote from the article: “A growing number of doctors have been using a special technique that gets superior compliance from patients….. It’s a way of talking with patients that’s designed to elicit their barriers to compliance and assist them in overcoming those barriers. Studies show that doctors using this method of interaction can often work wonders. ” So what is motivational interviewing, you ask?

At first glance, I thought perhaps this was some new conversational technique that had just been discovered and unleashed upon the medical community with astonishing results. Then I read the entire article. Well, it turns out that motivational interviewing is exactly what the specialty doctors I trust the most, and feel are truly integral in my support, have done all along. In a nutshell, its demonstrating genuine empathy for the patient. The “technique” as described involves partnering with the patient, asking positive open-ended questions to stimulate a dialog, using scales to encourage patient interaction, and planting the seeds of change. Funny that I would assume most of these would be commonplace, yet my experience has shown the opposite. I have a handful of phenomenal doctors that I consider key members of my “team”, and I went through dozens more before I landed in the office of these gems. Looking back now I see the one thing that makes these doctors different…..keepers if you will….from the others that I chose not to continue treating with. They all have empathy. Each one of them makes me feel like they take a genuine interest in ME. With these docs, I don’t feel a number or a chart or worse yet…..a paycheck. Yep, what sets them apart and makes them stellar in my eyes is their authenticity when they say they really care about me… shows. And the proof that this technique actually works? I am after all still struggling with smoking…..a fact that these specialists don’t typically address with me. Well to me the proof is that after a decade of despair, uncontrolled pain, and a general tumbling down into the rabbit hole I found this team and have made remarkable progress in recovery and general everyday functioning in the world. Although I still have scary issues that arise, I am doing so much better in the last couple years than anyone could have imagined. That is my definition of success. As the article states, doctors can get the ball rolling in less than five minutes during a visit because most change happens incrementally over time. And that is the key in my mind…..a general chipping away of old patterns to be replaced with new through caring conversations and gentle reminders, always reinforcing the goal. So it’s not really the message that doctors are delivering that makes the difference. It is, in fact, HOW the message is delivered that works these wonders. Imagine that.

doctors with heart



Suicide Awareness








Special thanks to Otrazhenie for most recent blog post!

What To Do When Your Life Falls Apart

Sometimes when things fall apart, they are act...

Sometimes when things fall apart, they are actually falling into place (Photo credit: symphony of love)

I found this OH SO appropriate post by a contributor to The Daily Love…..a blog curated by Mastin Kipp. The author of this masterpiece is Kute Blackson, speaker and life coach and one of my newfound sources of inspiration! I hope you all find it as moving and touching as I do and that it helps…..even just a little bit…..through those tough days we all have.


When your life as you know it falls apart, it is a great blessing.


Give thanks.


In that moment realize that your life is actually falling together even though you might not see it.


If your life falls apart then you are ready for something bigger.


It falls apart because it was too small for who you are becoming.


It falls apart because there is something more that is seeking to express itself in and as your life.


It falls apart because what you were living is no longer in alignment with who you are.


It falls apart because life is letting you know that perhaps you have gotten too comfortable where you’re at and need to grow to the next level.


Life is change. Life is growth. Life is a cycle of Creation-Life-Destruction. Every birth is another form of death. And every death is another form of birth.


Often when things fall apart we become afraid, we panic, we resist and fight life. We hold on to what we know, even though it no longer works or serves us.


This only keeps you stuck.


Holding on to the old will not bring what is new. Resisting what is new will not transform or change what is old.


When life falls apart you can resist or fight, which ultimately only leads to suffering and struggle.


So, what do you do when your life as you know it falls apart?


Simply, LET GO!


Perhaps it’s a relationship, job, or a house.


Let Go! And Trust.


Trust that what no longer remains in your life is no longer meant to be there. And that the Uni-verse is just making room for what is more in alignment with your highest good.


When things fall apart, the Uni-verse is trying to make space for something greater.


When life as you know it stops working and falls apart this is the moment to let go of your ego, as it can only take you so far. This is the moment to let go of your ego’s attachment of how your life should be, and surrender.


In every crisis is an opportunity to let go of what is inauthentic and live with more integrity.


In every breakdown is the blessing of a breakthrough.


In every challenging situation is the gift to help your soul evolve and become who you were really meant to be.


So if your life as you know it is falling apart give thanks and…








What Is Going On With This World? The Need For A Paradigm Shift

I had a very restless night’s sleep. I awoke feeling unsettled, but unable to figure out why. I dressed, ate and headed to my internship position, arriving at 9 AM EST. I had clients to meet and research work to do, keeping me busy all the while feeling an ever-increasing sense of despair and dysregulation…..still not knowing why.  My duties at my clinical internship completed, I emerged from the building and slumped into my car to head home. That is when I heard the news. That is when I cut the engine to the car and just bawled. I physically shook. I cried and wept. And like so many of you, I tried to make sense of what I had just heard on the radio…..20 kindergarten children, mercilessly gunned down in their classroom in Connecticut, had died.

My heart truly breaks for the families, friends, and loved ones of all of this morning’s victims of this terrible mass shooting. But my sympathy is not enough. What is going on with this world? Why all the senseless violence? Why this steady stream of mass shootings? What will it take to make it stop? When will we learn? What can we do… and me… help end this horrific , tragic, loss of life?

I want to offer my opinion on this, and urge all of you to do the same. Sure, there is the ultimate personal responsibility of the perpetrator of this shooting. Certainly we can rail against the easy access to deadly weapons and guns. Yes we can investigate the mental health of this perpetrator and the awareness of his family and friends. But is that really the final answer? We have security cameras, metal detectors, and protocols in place to help prevent incidents of this nature…..but it didn’t stop this incident from taking place.

No, we have to look deeper. We do have to look at the family…..the human family. The family each and every one of us belongs to. The constant daily violations we commit against each other’s rights on a daily basis. The sense of isolation and powerlessness that so many of our family members feel that we give only a casual acknowledgement to. We need to somehow, someway, finally realize that although we are all unique…..we are all integrally connected. What we do to one, we do to all and even to ourselves.

With the intelligence, technology, and advancements that we have made in our world…..why do we still have members here on planet Earth that feel so totally and utterly alone? Where has our sense of community and brotherhood gone and how do we ever get it back? Desperate people do desperate things…..a saying as true today as it was when first spoken.  I say to you that each one of us has the ability to reach out to others and help end this widespread sense of desperation. It takes a village, but it starts with just one person. It starts with me. It starts with you. We need to eliminate the worldwide cultural paradigm of control and power and shift to one of non violation….. a soul centered model in which every living being is valued and honored as part of the whole.

We are all imperfect creatures. We all have our strengths and our flaws. But at birth, we are all equally deserving. We have to instill a culture where that birthright never goes away. Tragically, sadly, the 20 children of Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut will never get to realize this birthright. Let’s band together and try to root out the causes of powerlessness and isolation and prevent this from ever happening again.

My heart and prayers are with those suffering today, all of you.