The Time To Do The Right Thing Is Always Right Now
2017 was a strange year in many ways. One good thing is that the number of certified nurse midwives (CNMs) supporting new families in birth increased here in North Carolina. CNMs attended 12% of all births in NC last year, an increase of almost 4% from 2000. Let's talk about one reason why.
People yearn for connection, especially from their healthcare provider. They want to feel understood, normal, cared for. But many of us walk away feeling let down. It could be the perfunctory, rote questions that seem unnecessary. Sometimes it's the sense that we are little more than a number. Midwives, however, focus on the relationship with their patient in a way that few other healthcare professionals do.
When I asked on my Facebook page why people chose a midwife, there was a clear, common thread in the responses. Respondents said that they felt:
Increasingly, patients with privilege choose providers who represent the connection they yearn for. Hospitals see this clear trend and are responding to it. They are hiring more midwives for exactly these reasons. A midwife embodies both connection and knowledge. And connection, remember, is what we all yearn for.
But not all patients have the choices you or I do.
And these patients are often the ones who suffer most. Patients who are poor are more likely to get sub-par care. Care that isn't trauma sensitive. Care that feels shaming or void of choice. Sub par care leaves patients not feeling trusted or listened to. Complicating poverty and the resulting lack of choice is the fact that race is also a determinant in patient care. See here and here and here. No surprise that patients who are African American and Latino are less likely to trust white providers!
All the more reason to prioritize connection with your patients. You have the information part down. You know your stuff and think on your feet easily. You may not be a midwife but you can do connection. But the connection part is likely something you need to work on. It feels hard and maybe if you're being honest with yourself, unnecessary. It seems as if it will take a lot of time. I get it. But focusing on the relationship, as midwives do, pays off in big ways like saved time, less stress and greater confidence. And of course your patients reap the benefits of a prioritized relationship too. Patients who feel connected to their provider are more likely to trust advice, ask for help, show up for appointments and be honest about what's really going on.
As a provider and a person, you're either stretching, growing, changing or...you're not. The people you care about, why you do the work you do in the first place, deserve the former.
If you're stumped on how to start prioritizing connection-
head here for 4 trauma sensitive best practices ideas
here for 3 steps to make you more trustworthy
and here for a new way to talk about a common complaint