The Fallible Physician

Your annual visit to your general doctor sixty years ago may have included him, cigarette-in-hand, detailing the risks of too much hygiene, the dangers of too much exercise, and the disconnection between diet and health. Clearly, the practice of medicine is an evolving, dynamic, fallible profession. Some ideas we once had  concerning our health are now considered ludicrous. Our parents looked to their family doctors as nearer to God and the final word. Times are changing.

If sixty years has drastically changed how we interact with our doctors, imagine what the next sixty years will bring. Today, unlike the 1950s, we can connect with doctors, all over the world. Our doctors are now viewed as a collaborative part of our overall healthcare team. No longer are the secrets of our health held in tomes of medical textbooks or locked in filing cabinets. We are in an era of ownership of our own health data. As patients we have become savvier and the pedestal our doctors once sat on has become leveled.

It is interesting hearing the reverence in  my elderly patients’ voices as they speak of their medical doctors. In contrast, my thirty year old patient sees his doctor as one of many resources in a quest for good health. In the thirty year old’s case decisions are made together, options are provided, and second opinions are encouraged.

Doctors today cannot know all of the options and medical “practice” is called “practice” for a reason. It is not called medical “perfect.” Patients have to take responsibility for their own health and, thankfully, we have entered a time in which it is finally possible. Studies reveal that people who are most involved in their healthcare decisions receive dramatically better results than those who simply acquiesce to directives from their physicians.


smoking doctor



Guidelines for being successful in your healthcare pursuits:

A)   Learn what annual, early detection tests are appropriate for you considering your family history, gender, and age.

B)   Spend fifteen minutes writing down questions before you attend any doctor’s appointments.

C)   Keep a detailed health history document. One page for your all of your current health issues/concerns, a list all medications and supplements and all lab results from the last several years. Take those items with you to every appointment.

D)   Request all results in writing.

E)    Make sure annual and semi-annual tests are scheduled, before you leave the appointment. Even if you have to change your appointment day or time, have SOMETHING on the books to serve as an appointment reminder.

F)    Collect data. Yes, the internet can be scary, but it is a quick way to get a lot of information. Not all information is accurate, and a lot of information on the internet is the WORST case scenario. If you go into your research with this in mind, you can filter. The purpose of internet research is to write down questions to ask the expert NOT to guide life-altering healthcare decisions. I repeat!

The internet is for:

Initial research

Knowing your options

Finding experts in the field

Finding positive support groups

Compiling a list of questions for your expert healthcare team

The internet is NOT for: 

Making big healthcare decisions

 Scaring that pants off you with worst case scenarios


G)   Find fellow fighters. Most conditions have many types of support networks. Find something that is geared ONLY toward a positive outlook. There are a lot of support groups that focus on hashing out all of the negatives in the situation. Studies have shown that a positive outlook can improve outcomes. Be cautious regarding what you expose yourself to during this important healing time. This includes people, media, support groups and doctors, etc.

H)   Healthy habits are healthy for you! Sleep, moderate exercise, a healthy diet, and stress management can improve your health. Put these first as cornerstones for your treatment plan.

I)     Consider ALL types of healthcare when coordinating what is best for you. Chiropractic, acupuncture, and naturopathy may provide better results alone, or in conjunction with your prescribed treatment plan.

J)     Ask for support! Use your personal network for prayer, counseling, coaching, and only turn to  people who are committed to being in your corner.

I am convinced that today that doctors no longer smoke in the middle of doling out healthcare results to patients. I do wonder what healthcare recommendations today will be gasped at thirty years from now. We must take control of our own health and realize that our doctors are sitting at the table with us. They are a resource, amongst other resources, and our health decisions are collaborative, not dictated from a pedestal.

Share a collaborative experience you had recently with health care providers.

















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About Dr. Denniston

Dr. Denniston is a wellness strategist for elite leaders and their teams, bridging the connection between personal well-being and professional success. She provides custom solutions for burnout and stress and facilitates cohesive habit-training strategies that maximize vitality, productivity, and resilience.

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