C-Force: Settling Disparities in Care and Getting Back to Treating the Whole Patient
"We've grown comfortable with colleagues having diabetes, having serious things like cancer, but if they say they have a behavioral or substance use issue," that same grace often is not extended, says Millard Collins, a family medicine physician and professor and chairman of the family and community medicine department at Meharry Medical College in Nashville. "For me as a family physician, at least 65% of what we deal with is influenced by behavioral health and mental health," he says.
In reading all this, I could not help but think back to what started this exploration -- the allegory of the good old country doctor and their accrued wisdom and dedication. Of how in the rural areas they serve, even today, what they do for the health of communities they serve transcends the simple practice of medicine.
While not a country doctor, renowned British neurologist and bestselling author Oliver Sacks once expressed this sentiment well: "In examining disease, we gain wisdom about anatomy and physiology and biology," he said. "In examining the person with disease, we gain wisdom about life."
Dr. Hans Duvefelt is a family medicine doctor in the small town of Van Buren, Maine. Writing in his blog A Country Doctor Writes, he described the subject of being a doctor this way:
"A good doctor gives medicine in response to the condition of the situation ... This is not a matter of adhering to one absolute method. It is rather like a good general who fights his battles well by observing his enemies closely and responding to their changes. His methods are not determined beforehand. He observes the moment and is in accord with what is right."
It is reassuring to know such doctors are still out there. I just wish there were a heck of a lot more of them.
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