Dr. Robin's 85-year-old mother recently had a mammogram scare. When doctors found an abnormality in her breast, they suggested, just to be safe, that she should have the cells biopsied. Dr. Robin went with her mother to get the surgery and says that what she was most impressed with was not the surgery itself (which went well), but with the surgeon who performed the procedure.
Dr. Robin says surgeons often get a bad rap that they are tough, that they are precise, that they have terrible bedside manners. They might be the best and they might be efficient and you might get off the table alive, but you better have someone else to hold your hand, sing or crack a joke. Dr. Robin says that wasn't true in the case of her mother's surgeon.
"He was joking, he was friendly, he was approachable, he allowed us to ask every question we had and even the ones that we couldn't think of, he helped us use our own brain power wisely," Dr. Robin says. "He didn't rush us."
Dr. Robin says she and her mother were extremely comforted by the doctor's attentiveness. When she suggested he teach younger doctors what it means to really be a good physician, he replied, "They don't need for me to teach them how to be good doctors, they need for me to teach them how to be good human beings." The doctor told Dr. Robin he never allows his nurses or the doctors that work with and for him to use language that scares people—that he instead teaches them to use language that is hopeful, optimistic and honest, and to be mindful of the power that they have over patients.
Dr. Robin says it's a lesson we should all take as we shop for the doctors in our own lives. "There are competent and capable doctors and surgeons who are at the top of their field and they are also at the top of being real vibrant human beings, who know how to connect with emotion, who aren't afraid of being vulnerable," she says.
"As you are shopping in your own world for doctors or accountants or lawyers or teachers, start looking not just for 'the best' as it relates to competency, because that is essential," Dr. Robin says. "But I want you to now to put in the equation that you want 'the best' in the field of your need, the field of your interest and the field of your desire that also incorporates being a real human being."
Printed from Oprah.com on Wednesday, March 12, 2014