“Jerk MD!”

Have you ever found yourself thinking that a client’s physician has missed something important?  Have you ever attempted to communicate to the physician, either directly or via the mutual client, that you believe there is something that deserves further attention?  Have you ever had the response reveal that the physician gives no value to your observations and thinks you are unqualified to have any thoughts about a patient’s medical condition?

Most of us who have been in practice a while have had a few such experiences (though we likely have had positive interactions with MD’s too). It is maddening! One would expect that a healthcare provider would welcome any input that could provide new insight to benefit a client. It is a shame, and a risk to quality healthcare, when arrogance or ignorance or a bad attitude interferes with a respectful consideration of another professional’s input.  It’s easy to see why a colleague used “Jerk MD” as the subject line of a post about a dismissive MD.

What response would we like in such a situation? — Thank you for sharing your concerns, I’d like to hear your observations? Even better would be a conversation, with each of us sharing our thinking. Perhaps an ongoing referral relationship of mutual respect could develop, serving our clients and our own professional development.

In a recent conversation with a fellow acupuncturist about non-LAcs doing acupuncture (or, using acupuncture needles, depending on our definitions), my colleague was outraged that a PT had suggested to a mutual client “mention to your acupuncturist that I think your Kidneys need special attention.”   The sputtering — “how can that PT, with a 30 hour course, presume to think they might know something I don’t already know.” I’ve had similar conversations with colleagues in the past and I can relate. I’ve had clients come to me with similar news — oh, my DC said he thinks the problem is my Liver meridian — and my initial internal response has been a dismissive tossing away of the input along with the thought that there is nothing about acupuncture and Chinese Medicine that a 200-hour acupuncture wanna-be could tell me.

We, in effect, become the “Jerk MD” in these interactions. The input from another provider, who no doubt wants only the best for the client, is disregarded, and our self-serving sense of superiority is stroked. We indulge our arrogance.

Let’s be the change we would like to see in the world. Let’s welcome input from others who are caring for our clients. Let’s be willing to have a dialogue about what they are observing and consider whether it might be helpful to us, regardless of our judgments about their training. Let’s share what we know that makes us think they might be off-base or on the right track. Perhaps an ongoing referral relationship of mutual respect could develop, serving our clients and our own professional development! And let’s be sympathetic to the MD who might think we, with our limited training in western medicine (most of us), are presumptuous if we have thoughts about a western diagnosis. We know what it feels like to have someone with less training offering us their assessment.


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© Elaine Wolf Komarow and The Acupuncture Observer, 2013-2033. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express written permission from Elaine Wolf Komarow is prohibited. Excerpts and links are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given with specific direction to the original content.

One thought on ““Jerk MD!”

  1. I love it when other practitioners engage in Chinese dialog. They may not full understand what they are talking about, but they are acknowledging parts of our medicine. It’s a wonderful step to bring the best part of Chinese medicine to a bigger audience. Suddenly our medicine is less mysterious and others can engage in our treatment language. I hope other acupuncturists encourage the continuation of the dialog with other practitioners.

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