Thursday, October 11, 2007

Why I Run
Reason #7 - To Be A Better M.D.

It doesn’t happen very often. Very rarely in fact. But when an overweigh teenage boy comes into my office asking, with tears in his eyes, for advice on how he could get rid of his man-boobs and not end up like his mother’s brother, who is obese, has diabetes, and spends half his day hooked up to a dialysis machine, how could I resist the urge to share with him what to me comes so naturally? So I gave him a hug, sat him down, and proceeded to share with him my love affair with running. He didn’t talk much, just listened, as I slowly introduced the idea that if he was serious about wanting to cut the fat, weigh less, look great and make others jealous, he needed to cut the junk food, dump the PSP, lace up the sneakers, and do battle with the road. He was skeptical when I told him that if he listened and was diligent with the diet and exercise, I could help him to lose 5 pounds a month so that by the time he graduated high school in 3 years, he’d be down to his ideal body weight. (At the back of my mind, I knew it was a bit of a stretch, but hey, I’m a runner at heart, and ambitious by nature, so I went with it!) I ended the visit by giving him a modified easy walk-jog-run plan to get him started. As he was getting up to leave, I still wasn’t sure whether he was catching on with the program until he volunteered to keep a record of his runs and bring them to me at the next visit. I congratulated him in advance for his courage and determination and promised to call him a runner the next time we meet.
I’m not sure if what I do and say in a half-hour office visit translates to anything out there in the real world for these kids. Because of my specialty, I come in contact with a lot of overweight and obese children. Most of the time, I can offer only very basic and simple advice on nutrition and exercise because the kid or the parent either do not understand the problem or lack the desire or motivation for change. However, once in a blue, I’ll have a family that is receptive and looking to make a difference in their lives. When I get these referrals, I get real excited because then I get to talk about what I’m passionate about, and in the process, use my knowledge and experience to teach, motivate, and inspire my patients to make the decision to live a healthier life. The task is not easy, and the process of transformation can take years, and as the provider, I hardly ever get the satisfaction of seeing the fruits of the labor. But that doesn’t mean I don’t try. Because although the kids might not know it, they help me to run just as I’m helping them to run. (Does that make sense? Well, it does to me!)
In that way, I believe that running has made me a better doctor. And so for that, I’ll continue to run. If not for me, then for my patients.


nwgdc said...

Great article. I've found the same truths to work. If you practic what you preach, people will ask about it. They don't need to train for a marathon, but they can start with a 5K.

aham23 said...

great post. being fit through running and cycling has made me such a better person. :)

In Ardua Tendit said...

It's great to see doctors who lead by example. Physicians often have to instruct patients to lose weight, and although their advice is sound, their credibility rating is on the floor if they themselves are overweight and out-of-condition. Consequently, the chance of their patients adopting the advice is low.

You are doing so much more for your patients by showing them that you are human too.

steve said...

cool post. hope it works out for him...

daniela said...

Hi :)
I'm Daniela,new graduate in medicine :), from Italy. Runner ;)

I've always thought running makes me a better (quite) M.D.

Find out it's the same for you it's pretty inspiring :)

Enjoy running!

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