Working With Health Care Professionals – Part 1
Health care professionals (HCP) are amazing. They have spent a very long time learning their field. Do they know everything? Not likely. We live with diabetes and we don’t know everything. Some are new. Some are very experienced. Some are unsure. Some of the HCPs are very confident in what they know. I liken this to when anyone starts out in their chosen field. Confidence and wisdom comes with time. The more the HCP is exposed to, the more they learn. The wisdom of what the HCP knows, whether inexperienced or experienced, is one thing…how they can work with people is another.
In the closed environment of an office, it is very easy to think the office is the world. Clearly, it is not. The reality outside that office, in the real world, is very different. Add to this that the person (note the wording here, “person”) working with the HCP is more then their disease. The person has life experience. The person has their own wisdom. The person has input into their care. The person should be the centre of the care plan.
So what does a person do when they are working with a HCP who does not see the world outside the office or is so stringently guided by rules that they forget about the person in front of them? The person has options. Certainly one of those options is to try to be heard, to try to explain what their life is like, why the rules may not be the best fit. I think we all know health care professionals are guided by evidence, by research. This evidence is what develops best practice guidelines. Best practice, however, is not the only practice so sometimes the ‘person’ may feel the need to choose another option. Here’s an example unrelated to diabetes I can use to explain this better. When parents have their first child, they worry about fever. HCPs know from all the research that’s been done that the most accurate and effective way to take a baby’s temperature is rectally, in the butt. However when you tell a new parent this information, they often will nod and say ok. If you could have read the dialogue bubble above my head when I was informed of this with my first child, you would have seen the words “Ya. I don’t think so.” Even though this is best practice, it makes no difference if the parent will not do it. The next best practice is under the arm which parents will happily do if needed. Back to my diabetes example. The recommendation of 45-60g of carbohydrate for meals is evidence based, it is best practice. However, many persons living with diabetes will not be able to tolerate these many carbs in one sitting. The health care professional, hopefully, will be able to assist the person with lowering the carbs to a reasonable level in keeping with the greater goal, blood sugars in range two hours after eating and in making sure the brain has enough energy to do its job well. We rely on the HCPs to help us problem solve and help us to achieve our goal even if that means going to the ‘next best’ best practice.
In part 2, I will talk about other ways we can work with our HCPs to keep the relationships healthy and moving forward.