I love my job because every day I must browse through all kinds of news and information from a variety of sources. Mostly it’s to stay up to date on hot topics in health and technology. The health side is for posting things on social media for work. The technology is so I can try to stay on top of my game. As I was going through emails and news items recently, I came across a headline I found intriguing. I had no idea it would lead to this blog post.
I’ve been in healthcare communications for over 25 years. In that time, I’ve met more doctors than I can count. Doctors are just like ordinary people, because, well, they ARE people. They all have their own personality traits. Some are more approachable than others. Some are a bit less humble. Some are always right and should never be questioned. Like I said, just like ordinary people.
And then there are the doctors who learn a lesson that makes them into an even better doctor. I was introduced to Dr. Peter Attia thanks to the headline, “Is the obesity crisis hiding a bigger problem?” I’ve decided the world needs more doctors like him.
The video from a Ted Talk is a little long, but so worth watching. In it, Attia talks about how he held a patient in “such bitter contempt” because she was overweight and diabetic. He never “questioned the conventional wisdom,” as he explains. Years later the tables turned. Suddenly he was the patient, suffering from metabolic syndrome, despite eating right and exercising.
That experience led him to rethink everything he had been taught and believed in as that conventional wisdom and the science behind nutrition, exercise and obesity. Now, he’s fighting all that conventional wisdom about obesity. He believes it may actually be the symptom of a bigger problem that is not apparent at first glance. That’s especially true when a doctor attributes obesity to being the patient’s own fault, as he once did. It has all led him to new research on obesity and diabetes, and I just sense it will prove to be a major finding and turn the medical field upside down at some point soon.
What got to me most of all, though, is how emotional he got when discussing that night and that patient so many years ago. He’s incredibly remorseful because he feels that patient did not get the compassion she so deserved — that same compassion he showed other patients.
I can think of some doctors who could use a little lesson in humility, and compassion. It might make them better doctors, and better people too.