One day, after being in a diabetes specialty practice for a couple of years, my medical assistant came up to me and said, “I really need to tell you something”. As I gave her my full attention, she proceeded to tell me about a conversation she had just had with the next patient that I would be seeing. This patient had type 1 diabetes; the patient and I both had concerns about her A1C and glucose levels. In order to get back on track, she had committed to seeing me regularly, every few weeks, in order to titrate her pump settings as needed.
My medical assistant proceeded to tell me that during the check-in process, my patient told her, “I wish Michelle would tell me that she is proud of me. Doesn’t she know how hard I’m working?” When my medical assistant notified me of this, my jaw dropped. I never yell at my patients, nor do I lecture or talk at them. But what I don’t always do, at least in the case of this patient, is tell patients how proud I am of them.
Diabetes is not easy. As Ginger Vieira puts it, “I’m working hard behind the scenes, counting, adjusting…”. I saw this patient 2-3 years ago. Ever since, I have tried to make it a point to make sure my patients know that I realize how hard they are working, and that I am proud of the progress they make – big or small. Even when there is a hiccup in the road, patients are most often times the first person to recognize the changes they need to make.
Fellow health care providers, be proud of your patients, and let them know you are proud. They are working harder than you might realize or give them credit for.