Better Bedside Manners

Medical students in the U.S. must now take another test to get their licence to practice medicine. The National Board of Medical Examiners is giving the would-be doctors six chances to prove they have good bedside manners. The students are negotiating for ten. (Just kidding!)
As a professional class, doctors are lousy listeners. Maybe they’re just reflecting the general population, but when I spill my litany of bodily ills, I want a doctor to be all ears.
I hail this move by the national board because too many doctors act like they are God and already know what you’re problem is. They’re all too ready to whack out a piece of your anatomy or write you off a prescription where they have stock in the company.
Speaking of which, my next recommendation is to give doctors penmanship classes and require they write so that an 8-year-old can read it. Preferably in block letters.
But back to the bedside manners. Here’s what I would like to hear a doctor say once in my life:
* “I don’t know what you have.”
* “I would recommend you get a second opinion.”
* “I’ll see you next Thursday promptly at 10:00 a.m. Don’t make me wait.”
* “You look like a cover model for ‘Men’s Health Magazine.'”
* “I’m going to knock 50% off your bill, because you’re such a nice person.”
OK, so I can dream, can’t I?
But what I do want to see is every one of God’s saints following this directive: “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how to answer each one” (Colossians 4:6, NKJV).
A doctor may find it difficult to improve his bedside manners, but Christians work incessantly to better their interactions with others.
* They cut out emotional static to listen intently (James 1:19).
* They take into account where people are coming from (1 Corinthians 9:19-22).
* They see in every person a soul saved by God’s grace and serving in the Kingdom (ibid.).
* They freely forgive those who are moving in the direction of God (Matthew 18:21-35; Colossians 3:13).
* They develop a soft spot in their hearts for people, and especially for their brothers and sisters in Christ. They’re “tender-hearted” to one another (Ephesians 5:32).
* They judge actions and motives from a benevolent perspective, thinking the best of what people do and say (Matthew 7:1).
* They encourage and praise others whenever possible (1 Corinthians 11:2).
Better bedside manners for doctors may be a lost cause, but Christians are the salt of the earth and show the love and gentleness of Christ in all they do. And I’m thankful for that.

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A. A. Neale

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