Here’s the deal. You’re getting into medicine or you are in medicine.

This is the biggest lesson. I hope you can hear this. I hope you don’t take as long to learn this as it took me to learn this. You’re getting into medicine and you’re going to be able to help people on a very unique level. If you don’t get this, you’re going to be extremely limited. You’ll never really hit the potential of optimally caring for patients. You’ll do some good things, but you won’t be optimal.

Here’s the deal. Medicine isn’t about you. It’s not about you at all. When you become a physician assistant you have to surrender your ego. It is no longer about you. It’s not about your money. It’s not about your time. It’s not about your inconvenience. It’s not about you judging your patient’s lifestyle. Medicine isn’t about you. Medicine is not about you. Patients don’t come to you for your judgment on their lifestyle. They come to you for help. People have all sorts of different motivations. Some of them are psychosomatic. Some of them are psychiatric where the back pain isn’t quite back pain.

Listen, ladies and gentlemen, medicine is not about you. It’s about how can you serve your patients. Medicine is not about you. When a patient comes in and they’re an HIV-positive homosexual who shoots heroin, they’re not ever going to come in and say, “Hey, what do you think about my lifestyle? Do you think this is a good lifestyle?” No, they don’t want to hear that. They don’t want your judgment. That’s why smokers are so against telling you the truth about their smoking. How much do you smoke? “Well, I smoke two packs a day, but I cut down. I’m down to a half a pack per day.” They’re buffering because they don’t want to hear your crap. They don’t want to hear your judgment.

Who do we have a tendency to judge? Alcoholics, drug abusers, smokers, obese. If you’re a smoker with COPD, we’re going to judge that. Diabetics who aren’t controlling their sugars, I’ve seen the trend to judge that behavior. I’ve done it too, and I have to constantly remind myself, “Medicine is not about me. How can I serve my patients?” When you become a physician assistant, you surrender your ego to save and help patients. That’s the service that we provide. I hope you can hear that.

Don’t ever judge a patient’s lifestyle. You don’t have that right anymore. If you do, it’s ego-based and you’re not really the kind of person I want to work with. I don’t want you to refer to patients negatively. That’s not the right thing. I don’t judge my patients. I care for them. That’s got to be your mantra. I don’t judge my patients. I care for them.

Remember, the language of caring without judging is not saying, “You have to lose weight. You have to stop smoking. You have to stop using opioids.” That’s the language of judgment because patients don’t have to do anything. They can do whatever they want to. You say this, “I’m concerned about your weight, my friend. I’m concerned about how much alcohol you’re drinking and what it looks like it’s doing to your body. I’m concerned about how much are you using opiates and I want to help you.” That’s the language of caring, not judging.

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