Love Your Patients!

               Love Your Patients!TM  

Love? Healthcare?
National "LYP" Day!
Scott Diering, MD
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Dr. Scott Diering responds to common questions:

What do you mean, "Love Your Patients?"

Agape is the quality of love we show when we love our patients!

Whenever we interact with another human being, we have the option of being nice, being neutral, or being unpleasant.  Most of the time we choose to be neutral.  It saves energy, time and emotional commitment.  Occasionally, we are unpleasant, usually in response to someone who is nasty to us, or sometimes just to prove a point.  In general, we reserve the nice interactions for people who are important to us, for those people who matter a lot to us.

Sometimes we are nice for no reason.  We treat every person we meet as pleasantly as we can.  Some of us do this every day of our lives.

To be nice to everyone, for no reason, is to act with Agape.

Agape is a Greek word for love.  The ancient Greeks had several words for love, such as Phili for brotherly love, Eros for erotic love as well as AgapeAgape is the unconditional love of all humankind.

What do I  do to show my patients that I have love for them? 

Its easy.  Just act towards them as you want someone to act towards you.

To show love, we just have to act with:


        Respect, and


What do I do so as to act with Compassion?

What do I do so as to act with Respect?

What do I do so as to act with Humility?


Summary:  Agape in healthcare is comprised of actions.

Summary: Love Your Patients!

Compassion is love (Agape) from the heart. Compassion is shown by our empathy, when we minister, and by our attention.

Empathy is the core of compassion. We must empathize, and truly feel their pain. We empathize when we:

o Carefully read our patients feelings, intentions and clues.

o Acknowledge and respond to these emotions.

o Use our facial expressions to demonstrate we can feel what they feel.

We minister to our patients (not just "deliver" health care at them). We minister when we:

o Are supportive and comforting.

o Get close to, and touch, our patients.

o Speak personally and say "I" and "we" a lot.

Our attention shows our patients they have our time (No multi-tasking!) We attend when we:

o Listen to everything, especially their story, and reflect back what we heard.

o Make eye contact with our patient and their visitors.

o Excuse ourselves when our attention shifts, or when we leave them.

Respect is love (Agape) from the spirit. Respectfulness is when we are courteous, when we validate our patients, and by being honest.

Courteousness and politeness are indispensable! We are courteous when we:

o Politely greet people using good manners, calling them Mr. or Ms, sir or ma’am.

o Dignify our patients with privacy and strict confidentiality.

o Behave as a host in our home, and warmly welcome our patients.

Validation is the core of Respect. We must never let a patient appear stupid! We validate our patients when we:

o Allow our patients to save face, no matter what they say or do!

o Acknowledge all their efforts, and their goals for improvement.

o Recognize their unique qualities, skills and lives.

Loving providers are completely honest, and keeping their patients well informed about every step of their care.

o Respect our patients’ time, and explain delays in results and callbacks.

o Give up control, and let them know their own responsibilities.

o Admit mistakes!

Humility is love (Agape) from the intellect. We are humble when we translate our jargon, admire our patients, and are gracious. Translating our lingo takes true humility.

We must translate all our medical, institutional and technical terms! Translating means we:

o Always use plain English with our patients.

o Be generous with metaphors and similes to make things concrete for our patients.

o Explain our thought processes, decision trees and rationale, too.

Admiring our patients is easy when we:

o Compliment them and their visitors frequently, and thank them for coming in.

o Are enthusiastic, and ask some non-healthcare questions.

o Trust our patients to do the right thing, when we leave them.

Being gracious comes naturally when we:

o Apologize for any imperfections.

o Ask and suggest, don’t demand or order, our patients do something.

o Sit down and smile, whenever possible.


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Last modified: 02/23/10