Health knowledge supports patients' well-being

At some time, we will each play the role of the patient.

In the 1991 film, The Doctor, William Hurt plays an arrogant physician who gets a taste of his own medicine when he is diagnosed with cancer. His experience from the patient’s perspective transforms his life and his practice.

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My experience as a patient came early. As a child, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, hospitalized for two weeks and had more blood tests than most of my patients.

But the personal experience of both acute and chronic illness and receiving care from good doctors and nurses has informed both my calling to the profession and my practice.

The Burnaby Division of Family Practice is the non-profit organization of the family physicians that serve the people of our community. In our ongoing public education program that includes free public lectures and information on the organization’s website, we seek to empower all members of the community.

Through our organization, the family physicians’ care for the patients of their own practices has expanded to the care of our community. We seek to raise the level of health knowledge and healthy living to support the well-being of all.

Although we’ve thought of ourselves as the big providers of healthcare, 90 per cent of your healthcare is self-care — what you do for your self. The best predictor of your future health are the habits you practise today.

We’ve been promoting the four foundations of self-care: healthy eating, physical activity, healthy relationships and emotional well-being. The next three public lectures focus on empowering patients in their interactions with healthcare providers.

On March 4, I’ll be talking at the Bonsor Community Centre about preventive care and the early recognition of illness. We’ll review the important screening tests (what tests you need at different ages) that identify medical conditions before symptoms appear. We’ll also talk about symptoms that may indicate conditions for which you should seek medical attention.

Although you may do your best with healthy living and preventive care, you might still find yourself in the hospital as I did. It can be a very unsettling experience and at times you may feel a loss of control. On March 27 at Confederation Centre, I’ll provide useful information on making the most of your hospital stay and ensuring you have the best experience.

On April 7 at the Bonsor Community Centre, we’ll discuss what you should know about medical ethics, including how to ensure your wishes are respected, who has access to your medical records and how to make informed decisions about medical interventions.

In the patient-doctor relationship, the patient comes first. The role of your healthcare providers is to support you in both managing illness and achieving your goals. We envision the Empowering Patients education program will provide some of that support.

Dr. Davidicus Wong is a family physician. For more information on the Burnaby Division of Family Practice’s public health education series, check their website at divisionsbc.ca/burnaby. For more on achieving your positive potential at every age: davidicuswong.wordpress.com.

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