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Aug
25

MLK Had a Dream: So Do You and Your Patients

imagesDreams are powerful.  Dreams inspire action.

If you have any question about the power of dreams, consider the March on Washington 50 years ago.  Word of Martin Luther King’s dream went viral, and inspired hundreds of thousands of people to gather in Washington DC to hear more.

How do you reach your professional dream of achieving better medical outcomes?

Your patients’ medical results are influenced by three factors: your efforts, your patient’s choices and chance.  In many cases the biggest barrier to optimal health–patient compliance–seems outside your control.

What can you do to inspire your patients to stop smoking, take medication as prescribed or shed those unwanted pounds?

You can enhance compliance by tapping into your patients’ dreams.  Personal goals, emotion and dreams are much more likely to inspire patients to action than medical goals, logic and threats of catastrophes.

Here are some questions that will help you identify your patients’ personal  goals that drive compliance and help them achieve medical  goals:

  • Imagine you had a magic wand and you enjoyed perfect health today.  What is your life like?  How is your life different? Ask patients to paint a picture and describe the full sensory experience.  Capture details, like the names of the kids and pets.  What  is the setting?  Are they at the beach throwing the tennis ball for the beloved chocolate lab while listening to the sound of crashing waves?  Are they cheering on their grandkids at their sporting event?  Are they walking their daughter down the isle?
  • How do you want to be remembered by your kids/life partner/co-workers?  While this sounds morbid ( pun intended) writing your own obituary is a powerful exercise.
  • Who is your hero, and why?
  • What’s on your bucket list?
  • If you know you could not fail, what project would you take on?

Here are some ideas to leverage the dreams to inspire action:

  • Remind patients of the dream.  Use specific visual images as well as names.  “Your son Billy is going to have a non-smoking dad!”
  • Measure progress towards the dream.  Paint before and after pictures.  Sometimes physical pictures work, while other times verbal pictures are best.  “Do you remember when you started this weight loss program?  You didn’t think that you could walk around the block.  Now you’re walking a half hour each day.”
  • Focus on the personal goal behind the medical goal.  “Keep up the great work.  You will look stunning on your daughter’s wedding day!”

You enjoy a privileged position: you help patients enjoy the health that allows then to pursue their passions.  Harness the power of your patients’ dreams.  That’s an effective way of making your own professional dream–achieving better medical outcomes– a reality.

Permanent link to this article: http://medicalbridges.com/mlk-had-a-dream-so-do-you-and-your-patients/

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