Advocacy and Excellence

Advocacy and Excellence

Being a patient advocate is one of the most important things we do as Physicians. The most crucial elements of advocacy are empathy and communication. When a patient has a new diagnosis of a condition or disease it’s our job as medical professionals to address their stress, anxiety, concerns and make sure they have a functional support system. These factors will ultimately provide better outcomes and satisfaction for both the patient and physician. How well you advocate for your patients is the difference between being a good physician and a great one.

My wife was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.  Her prognosis is excellent and despite us both being Medical professionals, our experiences over the first month since her diagnosis have provoked emotions and a concern for patients who have no medical education or training, and no one advocating for them.  It is easy to see how patients may become confused regarding next steps, or “fall through the cracks” of the system.  

Most of us did not go into Medicine for the money.  I state with confidence that for many of us the decision to become Physicians included an altruistic calling.  The stronger the awareness of answering the call to serve others, the more satisfying the decision and less questioning as to whether such decision was correct.   

Not forgetting where you came from may sound a bit cliched, but it speaks to ones’ value system and maintaining the awareness of that calling.   Sustaining the drive needed to practice medicine with a positive mindset despite countless challenges and distractions requires remembering the Golden Rule and the Oath you took. 

Easier said than done without question, but why then, do so many of us become disenchanted, suffer from burnout, or worse?

It is easy to forget that even though we may settle into the “routine” of our career, a new diagnosis of a condition or disease brings stress, anxiety and many uncertainties to the life of a patient and their support system.   There is nothing routine from a patient perspective when receiving such a diagnosis, no matter how simple or severe.  

Being a patient advocate is one of the most important things we do as Physicians.  The ability to advocate for every single patient may seem like a difficult proposition, or perhaps you may not believe it to be part of your role or job description.  In my opinion, this is not debatable.  You have an obligation to always be an advocate for your patients.  

Advocacy impacts outcomes and satisfaction for both Patient and Physician alike.  At its’ essence is empathy and communication.   It is about giving a voice where there is a risk of that voice not being heard.  It is also about always giving your best effort, listening, and ensuring your patient has help navigating an intimidating system.  

Some days are harder than others.  Some patients are more difficult to care for due to any number of factors.  This we know to be true.  Making sure that each patient is treated to the best of your ability is certainly challenging, but the difference between being a good Physician and a great one can likely be found in the level of consistency and excellence to which you advocate for your patients.  That effort will not go unnoticed and your calling to become a Physician will be re-affirmed.  



To read more of Dr. Desmond Bell's blog "The Script Pad" go to

MD Coaches, LLC is a company dedicated to developing and empowering physicians to realize greater satisfaction in their roles. Understanding the challenges and operational concerns for both physicians and hospital administrators. MD Coaches utilizes experience and coaching skills to support their physician clients in establishing strategies for positive career progression.


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