Very few people sit down and think about their mindset. And even fewer doctors or health care workers contemplate mindset. But if there were ever a time in human history to think about our minds and how we use them to process what is happening around us, it is now. As an unexpected gift from the pandemic, I was given months to take an inward look at my mindset and start the satisfying journey of thought work. One of the main lessons that I have learned is that we are in control of most of the results we have in our life. Our results come from our thoughts, feelings, and actions. So if I was unhappy with any results in my life, I needed to figure out what thoughts I was having to create these results and work backward.
It is safe to say that most physicians and patients are frustrated with the current state of health care. But how did we get here? What thoughts do we have as a society that has produced the reality in which we live now? If I can change my results by shifting my thoughts, can we apply the same principles to health care?
With any paradigm or mindset shift, we have to take a look at what is occurring that is not working and ask ourselves questions. And just like we are trying to move beyond where we are on a personal level, it is the quality of the questions we ask ourselves that push us to better quality answers. So why can’t we do that with medicine?
We can ask a million questions like, “Why do insurance companies control the cost of health care?” or “Why do insurance and hospital system CEOs make at least $5 million dollars a year?” But those questions lead to frustrating and anger-fueled answers. Instead, we have to shift how we look at the world of health care and medicine and ask better quality questions. “How can we shift the patient-physician relationship back to an interaction between two humans?” “How can we remind our future doctors, nurses, etc. that patients need us when they are at their most vulnerable?” “How can we restore the respect that physicians once had based on our years of training?”
I don’t have all the answers because if I did, I wouldn’t need to ask these questions. I do believe that just as when we ask our own brains better questions for our lives, they come up with the answers we had all along that the same is true for medicine. The answers exist within the humans that make up the soul of the industry. As health care workers, we need to take a deeper look within and ask better questions.
Stephanie L. Kokseng is an internal medicine physician.
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