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Patient-centred: You must be present with your patient

It has been months now but I still can’t get this conversation out of my head. It was with a very nice nurse at a conference in the fall of 2011. I had just finished a keynote presentation, “1% is not 0%,” where I shared some of my story and lessons learned dealing with the health system.
I was approached by a lady who had seen both my keynote and the workshop session I had done in the morning on YACC. She was kind and had a point to make with me. She explained she sees young adults in her clinic all the time but how she rarely refers them to YACC as her assessment didn’t determine the need for a social work consultation, thus, they must be doing ok. She could now see the error of her ways and the value of connecting every young adult to YACC regardless of how dire—or manageable—their situation.
It was a well-disguised win.
It’s great that we converted another nurse, but as I often do, I wondered how many others are caught with their patient assessment template between their faces and the patients in front of them. How many other nurses and docs are assessing us, our emotional well-being and figuring, “Hey! No flags here, he probably wouldn’t benefit from connecting with YACC”?
I’m sure it doesn’t shake down like that. I’m sure they are immersed in their screening tool, somewhat overwhelmed by the load of patients in the waiting room and when no flags are raised, they move on.
The growing patient-centered movement holds promise. But if health professionals can’t keep the patient who is in front of them, well, in front of them, then we can’t connect as people to understand what’s happening within and beyond the assessment tools, and then we miss the mark on patient-centered care.
The essential step required to achieve patient-centered care is for every single person in the health system to be patient-present.
Live life. Love life.

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