YOU and Your Doctor Are Your Medical Team

You might associate my name with my Ojo pet articles, and not necessarily human medical topics. I was invited about 12 years ago by Ojo’s then-editor, Alex Grattan, to write a pet column because of my extensive experience with fostering infant motherless kittens and puppies. The focus of my columns has been to help people understand their pets better, so they could provide their care in a more informative way.

In many ways care of a pet is very similar to taking care of a human loved one, as well as ourselves. We are responsible for making decisions, observing changes, identifying medical problems, keeping medical appointments, possibly giving medications, etc.  I believe we can all keep learning about how to best care for ourselves, and our loved ones.

My professional career for 40 plus years has been as a licensed registered nurse, having worked briefly in New York City, but mainly in Northern California.   During these years I had a wide variety of hands-on work experiences, including: medical surgical patient care; acute rehabilitation of spinal cord, head injury and stroke patients; teaching both the patient and family how to deal with disabilities; a visiting nurse, making home visits; an assistant director of nurses at a 186-bed Medicare-certified Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF); a director of nursing of a 99-bed Medicare-certified SNF; manager of quality review at a non-profit “watch dog” organization overseeing care provided to Medicare recipients in Northern California; and lastly, as a manger of health services of a non-profit health care plan. I am not outlining my work experience for the sake of bragging, nor does it have anything to do with border promotions. All that I have listed is accurate and true.   

From my various work experiences and positions, I have gained a lot of insight about how to help a person become more involved and educated with managing their own health and working as part of the health team, as a participating member, and not as a bystander.

The focus of my forth-coming articles is to emphasize that YOU, as “the patient,”  are part of your own medical team! I emphasize team, as that is what it is. Decisions are not made in isolation. You have a vested interest in your own health as an active participant and should be as educated as possible about decisions and actions that affect you. 

In my columns, I will not give medical advice about medical conditions, which type of doctor to see, what tests should be utilized, what medications you should be taking, etc. These are medical decisions you must make with the help of your medical team. However, there is a wide area of general information and subjects outside of these above-mentioned specific medical topics that I can help offer guidance on, based on my experiences. 

My first suggestion is to have a primary care physician (PCP), aka a family doctor who will be your “main doctor” for your general health problems/conditions, and who will also coordinate your care if you see any specialists. If you already have a family doctor, good decision. If you do not and keep thinking you’ll wait until you’re sick and need a doctor to pick one, then not so good. When you are well and not acutely ill, you make clearer decisions as time is not pushing you into making a quick decision when you are already challenged with a medical situation. Think about that.

Hope to see you back. Next article: What to Consider When Picking a Doctor.

May 2022 Issue

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Jackie Kellum

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