The new year brings a lot of new things, and as we come to the close the first month, it’s hard to believe that in just 21 days, you could have formed any number of new habits, simply by repeating them each and every day.

So, how did you use your first few days of the new year?

Taxes and health care coverage are two entities that start off at the top of the calendar. While you may have until April to get all your bucks in line, your health is not necessarily on the same schedule. I guess it all depends on your health insurance.

Do the words “open enrollment” mean anything to you?

I’ll be going into this new year with a new job. Well, that is, new in 2017, but new compared to what I started with last year. Instead of working in the trenches cleaning up the I-don’t-want-to-know filth out of cars, I’ve come face-to-face with the very source itself: my fellow human beings.

I now work as a Medical Assistant.

Before we go any further, let me provide a disclaimer: in no way am I speaking for my fellow Newfounders when I write this piece. The experiences I’ve had are ones I’d like to share, because at the end of it all, after the last insurance pay-out and the doctor’s office closes, the medical field should be about taking care of people.

Ever heard of the Hippocratic Oath?

Going into the job, I was excited to have a desk to sit at, a warm building around me, and a relatively low-impact day ahead of me. I’d worked in customer service before, so I was clued in to the nuances that speaking to the public requires, but what I could not prepare for—or expect—was the first-hand glance into our healthcare system.

Let’s consider the whole idea behind a doctor’s office, and what sort of assumptions we all more or less work off when we make an appointment. As the patient, if I’m feeling “under the weather,” I reach out to someone who’s medically trained and ask for help. Why does my throat hurt? Why am I so tired all of the time?

What can The Doctor do to help me feel better?

Most of us have this hope that The Doctor will have all the answers. They’ll tell us that we have a headache because we’re dehydrated, that we can’t sleep at night because of that chocolate bar we ate 10 minutes before bedtime, or that breast cancer runs in our family, so screenings are an obligation to our health.

Or, if you’re like most people, you go to the doctor because you need something from them. Whether it’s a prescription, a diagnosis, or a letter excusing us from jury duty, doctors offer us something for the vast amounts of money we spend each year. Or rather, some of us don’t spend, and are punished for.

Let’s return to my job for a second. It in no way commands the respect that a D.O. or M.D. does, but I’m involved in the entire process nonetheless. Mainly, the process of taking care of patients, those people “under a doctor’s care.”

It’s this patient-doctor relationship that I think draws most people in to shows like “House” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” Who doesn’t like to see a miracle happen? I’m sure we’d all like to think those kinds of miracles, while they are obviously dramatized, happen every day, but the truth of the matter is that doctors act more like guides. You go to a lawyer to seek legal guidance, and the worth of that advice is based upon how it impacts your life.

How do you think stock brokers make their money?

Investing care in your life is what you expect from doctors, whether it’s being friendly and asking about your kids or advising you that maybe eating one less Reese’s a day might add a few years. The doctors I work with gives out invaluable advice. No doubt about that. The problem I have is that that advice is barred behind quite a few barriers.

Barriers I believe well-intentioned people—after all, doctors are people, too—should not set in front of something so valuable as a person’s health.

They call it “bedside manner.” The retail industry calls it customer service. I call it recognizing and respecting the people who come to a doctor’s office as fellow human beings. You wouldn’t want someone to consider you another body on the table, would you? Another diagnosis, another specimen, another insurance claim.

I used to be a Medicaid number. I was the patient the doctor saw to “give back.” The poor case of someone who couldn’t afford proper health insurance.

Now, I’m part of those (growing) number of citizens who would rather face the threat of a fine at tax time (because if you’re already paying taxes, what’s a few more hundred dollars?) than sacrifice half of our monthly check. Those who have to privilege their belly over their health.

The office I work at offers small pieces of chocolate to patients. I advise them they can take as many as they’d like because the more they eat, the less I inhale. Part of me wants to see that small offering as a way to remember the celebrate the sweet moments in life. That sounds like something written on those Dove chocolate wrappers though, and I’m hardly one to paste those on my fridge.

Go back to your roots, medicine. Study that Hippocratic Oath a bit closer. When someone’s life is in your hands, respect the invaluable honor that comes with it.



Rebecca Henderson holds a Master’s in German and a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing. Best expressing herself through the written word, she enjoys the smell of burning rubber and can recite the ABC’s of the automotive world upon command. Rebecca hopes to shift your world perspective through her words, because looking out the same window every day hardly makes for an interesting life.




Photo by jesse orrico on Unsplash

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