Promise by Donna Parker, MD

photo by navalsurfaceforces on flickr

photo by navalsurfaceforces on flickr

This post is part of our collection of “Gold Nuggets” —  our way of alerting the medical community to original artwork, poetry or multimedia that stimulate discussion and reflection.

Promise by Donna Marie Parker, MD

Hurrying from one exam room to another,
Greeting familiar and not so familiar babies, children and parents,
I am inspired by their very presence

Some come for well child checks,
Parents eager to see how their child is growing
Others, whose parents are worried about fever, cough, wheezing, rash
Or   “she’s just not acting like herself”

Like an investigator, I ask
When did it start?
How is he acting?
What have you given her?
Who else is sick?
Where has he been?

While continuing the dialogue,
I observe; pay close attention to the patient
Is she clingy, fussy, crying, smiling, playful?
I move in closer, try to engage
(age appropriately of course)
Explain my impending action
“The stethoscope won’t hurt; I promise”
“Here, touch it! See how I listen to mommy”
So as to relieve fear and anxiety, and to build trust

After listening and touching
And shining light into orifices
Then observing some more
I hold, hug, ruffle hair, high-five
“You were so cooperative! It’s okay to be scared”

A thorough explanation is given,
In some cases only assurances of what the diagnosis may be,
Because in some instances
There is not certainty
Only time will provide further answers

Parents’ and patients’ questions are answered
Those asked verbally
And those asked by quizzical looks on faces and lingering silence
I promise myself,
I promise my patients,
I promise their parents
That despite the wired rectangle sitting on the desk,
I will always observe, engage
Search their eyes,
Touch, feel, smile, cry, empower, assure and reassure

Because the Humanistic Art of Medicine
Is essential for the well-being
Of those who entrust their health and well -being to me!

Discussion Questions
  1. When you use the ‘wired rectangle sitting on the desk’ (the computer) during your time with patients, how does that affect your ability to communicate or connect with them?
  2. How does computer or technology (electronic medical record, smart phone, iPad etc.) use impact your ability to keep the visit ‘patient centered?’
  3. How can you keep your ‘Promise’ to patients and ensure that your clinical encounters remain patient-centered when using technology?