When I was pregnant, I noticed that during regular check-ups when a midwife or a nurse was asking different questions, she would always listen to my answers with the exact same polite expression of her face, nodding considerately and taking notes: “Ok… m-m-m-Okay!” as if she wouldn’t even care what exactly I was saying. Almost all the nurses I was seeing had this same expression. Non-judgmental. Free of any sign of disapproval. Neutrally welcoming.
I started thinking their barely perceptible polite smile would still be the same whatever i say. I’m wondering, if someone would tell them she’s smoking while being pregnant, would they still nod considerately with a gentle smile: “Okay… Just so you know, research has shown that smoking pregnant women have bigger risk… …” Of course it’s my guess, and I don’t want to blame anyone for something that don’t know. But it’s a fact that it’s part of the job of medical personnel to be non-judgmental. They never know who are they going to care for tomorrow: drug addicts, alcoholics or prostitutes… No judging. They just give us treatment options, no judging.
But sometimes it’s good to express one’s opinion on something. To say that something is not ok. To differentiate between good and bad things and to encourage the first while try to detract from the second. Not just provide evidence why something has bad consequences and leave it to the person to make his own choices, but express one’s opinion on different options. I encountered that a lot in doctors’ offices in the US. Yes, everyone should make their decisions and nobody should make them for you. But at the same time I feel that doctors should take a more proactive role in helping patients with decisions and even make sure they understand what is the wrong thing to do. Or course, this should only be driven by patient’s well being, health wise and financially.
However healthcare is business in the US and doctors are financially interested. A doctor acts like your personal adviser who helps to make the right decision. But you are the one who makes that decision. The first thing he asks you when you step into his office is “How can I help you?” Haha! As if I could probably say: “Let’s just talk about something!” I was used to think that doctors have no other job than to cure your health problem. Not give you painkillers that won’t cure you, but make your problem invisible for some time. I thought their job is to eliminate the cause, not hide its symptoms.
When I came to dentists in the US, they always gave me choices: from “doing nothing” to “doing everything” which wold imply making my teeth ideal health wise and aesthetically by investing tens of thousands of dollars. I bet that’s not most people want. They, me included, are searching for the fine line between “nothing” and “everything”. But firstly, they often aren’t knowledgeable enough to define what’s more urgent, that’s why they need expert guidance. Secondly, they are’t billionaires neither, and can’t go for the most lucrative option available. Unless they want to burden themselves with credit obligations for years )) And the guidance is often lacking.
Certain things shouldn’t be ok. For example, health problems shouldn’t be left untreated. And doctors should be clear about that. I’m not saying the society should start blaming people that differ from others, but I think that we would all benefit from setting some sort of emotional norms that would “guide” people towards more healthy choices.