:: to the teeth ::    thoughts on social justice, medicine, race, hope and beats

"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." :: Arundhati Roy ::

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." :: Alice Walker ::
Wednesday, July 05, 2006  

Exercising Compassion


first off - welcome SRI! thank you for that deep and insightful sharing of wounds, history, medicine, internship and healing. i am humbled and touched by your words and i look forward to more of your writings.


the other day in my clinic there were four people waiting to be seen. we see people first come - first served, but there are occasions when medical necessity dictates a change in order.

a young woman was in the clinic waiting to be seen. she was missing a leg from an accident years prior. i had talked with her on the phone earlier in the day and let her know that when she arrived i would skip her ahead of the rest of the patients because of her particular problem.

when i called this young woman back out of order, an older hispanic woman scowled at me. she wasn't fuming mad but she was clearly irked that i was skipping over her daughter who was waiting with her to be seen. they had been there for almost an hour already.

it took about 15 minutes for the visit. afterwards the older woman came in with her daughter, they were next, and the first thing shedid was offer an apology. she thanked me for seeing the other woman first, recognizing that it was a clinic, not a bank or a restaurant, and sometimes others have deeper needs. i let her know that the reason i saw the patient first was that she had arrived by bus and it had taken her 2 hours to get to the clinic, plus she had the ride back, all with a handicap that made it just that much more complicated.

it was an interesting exchange and i was glad for it. i had broken the order out of compassion for a patient with a disability and a long bus ride and my other patient came around after a few moments to share that compassion with me.


posted by andru | 7/05/2006 03:40:00 PM | |


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