Health Toolkit Part Four: Healthcare and Medical Professionals
Updated: Apr 21, 2022
Being healthy is a nuanced process that requires a variety of practices and not a single solution. The healthcare system and medical professionals play an important role in that process. When problems arise, they can help by eliminating life-threatening issues and prescribing medications as needed.
However, medical professionals and medical science are limited.
While it would be wonderful if providers could always find easy answers and solutions, the truth is health is complicated. Medical professionals can’t fix everything.
From my experience, people usually fall into two camps with regards to seeking medical attention. Either they believe doctors are all-knowing and expect them to solve all their issues. Or, they have a strong dislike and distrust of doctors and avoid seeking help at all costs.
I believe there is a middle road. Medical professionals, such as doctors, nurse practitioners, and PAs, are an amazing resource in navigating health when utilized with appropriate and realistic expectations.
As a nurse, here are a few things I wish the general public understood.
First, medical providers are just people doing the best they can.
Unfortunately, we can make mistakes. This may be due to a lack of information, understanding, time, or energy. The last two years have been incredibly hard on all the healthcare workers I know. Burnout is real and it is detrimental to the provider and the patient.
Second, medical science is constantly evolving. Best practices from a few years ago may no longer be seen as the gold standard. As more research is done, it is reasonable that health recommendations also change.
Lastly, fatphobia is a real problem in healthcare and many people with larger bodies may avoid seeking medical attention due to the stigma they face. If they seek care, their options may be severely limited and dependent on losing weight. This is not ok.
Providers need to empower their patients to find a variety of supportive strategies to manage their health and this should not include pressure to lose weight. As I discussed before, health and weight are not the same thing!
Gone are the days of a doctor having absolute authority and a patient blindly trusting. With all the health information freely available on the internet, people know a little bit about a lot of things. This demands a more collaborative relationship between provider and patient.
Building a strong, trusting relationship with a provider is an amazing resource. Having a “go-to” person when you have questions or concerns is super important. They won’t always have all the answers, but they can add expertise, knowledge, and recommendations to your toolkit.
Health care workers need to respect and treat their patients as dynamic and unique individuals. I encourage everyone to find a provider they feel listens to and values them. If you do not feel safe or understood, it is possible to find a different provider that is a better fit.
Our bodies deserve good care from ourselves and our medical team.
Thanks for reading.
Resources and Recommended Reading:
1. I highly recommend following @thefatdoctoruk, @drrachelmillner, and @drjoshuawolrich. They each use their expertise and platforms to fight against weight stigma in medicine and promote weight inclusivity.
2. I found the book "Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle" by Amelia Nagoski and Emily Nagoski extremely helpful in understanding and dealing with my own feelings of overwhelm and burnout.