At every 3rd Conversation Spark event, we invite both a clinician and a patient to act as storytellers – to share with us a powerful experience (positive or negative) that they have had within the health care system, to model vulnerability and prepare the rest of the group to connect as humans. We asked a few of our storytellers for permission to reshare their stories with a broader audience.
During 3C events, many patients share stories that underscore the importance of the patient-clinician relationship to them and describe situations in which clinicians treated them like family. Oftentimes, the health care system gets in the way of patient-clinician relationships and 3C Spark events are a way for both patients and clinicians to renew their commitment to each other. One such story is below:
Pamela Niccols is a patient from Camden, New Jersey who participated in a 3rd Conversation Spark event in October 2019.
In 2015, when I was first diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, I was anxious about being vulnerable and open about a condition that felt so personal with a male doctor. So, I was disappointed when I was referred to one. But I tried, and so did he.
When I had tests done, my doctor sat down and talked to me. He walked me through the steps, he slowed down and took time with me. Over time, the fear about being open with a male doctor disappeared. He and his team are always available for me to ask questions. Having that availability, that openness, the close relationship; it gives me a sense of relief.
To state it simply: I have a close connection with my care team that makes me feel safe.
Honestly, the team feels like a family. I can always rely on them. And I know that isn't always how it goes with patients. So, I was nervous in 2018 when I had a new team taking care of me.
In 2018, I came down with an infection. I needed immediate help, so I was not with my normal care team. Of course, I was scared. And confused. But right away, one of the hospital staff made a point to check on me, to make sure I knew what was going on. Without the need of any prompting from me, they circled back to my doctor. They explained I would likely be there for a week. They set expectations for my recovery.
But before the week was up, I was ready to be done. I wanted to check out. I wanted to go home. The doctor on my case, someone I had only known for a few days, heard this and sat down with me. He took extra time, and he explained that his wife suffered from the same condition.
He told me, if it was his wife in the hospital, he would make sure she was sent home with the right medicine and without pain.
He told me that everyone on the team was committed to me, and he even called the insurance company for me.
A team that goes above beyond
It is hard to explain how good it feels to know you have a team that goes above and beyond. They were not going to give up on getting me what I needed, even when I was ready to. I felt that commitment. It is so important to feel like you have all the information and to work with a doctor that fights for your care. I was a new patient with this care team, but once again I felt I was part of a family.
Learn more about Spark events for patients and clinicians