As both a registered nurse, a patient with a chronic illness myself, and a family member trying to manage care for a relative, I know it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. When we’re feeling the stress of illness or injury, the last thing we want to do is research options and make decisions about care. But, being an active participant in your care or the care of a loved one is one of the most important things you can do.
The first step is to find a health care provider you like and trust, one who sees you as a partner in your care. After all, you’re the leading authority on you! Keep in mind that even if your provider graduated at the top of the class and has an alphabet of numbers after his or her name, nobody knows everything. Considering the rate at which medical knowledge doubles, half of what a 20 year old knows will be obsolete in 10 years.
That’s why the patient-provider partnership is so important. In addition to being the expert on you, you can focus on the topic most important to you and be a resource for your health care provider. One of the most compelling stories for patient engagement comes from Dave deBronkart, also known as ePatient Dave. I had the pleasure of hearing him speak at a Connecticut conference about 5 months ago, and is the most eloquent advocate for patients I’ve ever heard. He was diagnosed with late stage cancer and was told his condition was terminal. He wasn’t ready to die yet, so he did the research to find the best place to get treatment and worked with his personal physician along the journey. That was 7 years ago. His Web site is a treasure trove of information; the best place to start is his introduction for patients here.
Here at Nurse’s Notebook, we will provide guides that will help you choose reliable sources for information along your journey and other disease-specific information. If you have any questions, click on the contact us link above.