Health Care Empowerment

Have you ever felt powerless in a health-care setting?

My guess is, we all have.

Whether your visit concerned your own health or the health of a loved one, it’s likely that a combination of worry and doubt (How will I know if I’m getting the best care?) left you feeling vulnerable and defenseless.


Doctor Dan the Bandage Man by Helen Gaspard, courtesy of Little Golden Books via Kilmer House

My gut reaction to this topic drew me to a recent article by Dr. Lissa Rankin published on the MindBodyGreen website.

Dr. Rankin offers tips to help take charge of your health care by being “empowered,” but not “difficult.”

We’ve all heard the adage, “You’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” During a stressful visit to a medical facility, it can be extremely difficult to communicate with personnel without losing your cool.

But Dr. Rankin assures us that speaking up calmly and kindly is often the key to getting attention. That takes true empowerment. Believe that you have every right to know what’s going on—because you do—and voice your concerns with both conviction and compassion.

Of course, there are instances when it makes sense to pack up and take your health concerns elsewhere.

“If your doctor is an ego maniac, I don’t care how skilled your doctor is—find another doctor,” Rankin advises. “If your doctor considers you difficult any time you question an order or ask for a second opinion, your doctor cares more about being in control than doing the right thing. As a physician training other doctors to partner with patients, I guarantee there are wonderful physicians who welcome the partnership of empowered patients and their families.”

Want to learn more? I encourage you to read the full article, “Are You Fed up with Health Care?”

Remember, our bodies, and our wellness, belong to us.


  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Thank-you for posting this important issue today! We all need to be our own best healthcare advocates. We would never buy a property without asking questions and doing our own research, so why would we just turn over our health decisions to someone? In my professional career of nursing, we nurses advocated for our patients every day, but that cannot take the place of a person advocating for them selves. A precept of nursing care is to first listen to the patient and believe what that person is telling you. Nurses encouraged patients to talk about their concerns and questions which we would pass along to the physicians. But, nothing takes the place of a person directly asking for answers and insisting that they be given. Healthcare is best achieved as teamwork with all of the team bringing together information. And at the heart of every team is the patient and the patient experience. If we don’t get that right, it is easier to have lesser positive outcomes. For hundreds of years, people placed physicians in a strata of all knowing and felt they should never question the information they were given. Medical schools perpetuated this all knowing persona attribute making the communication between patient and doctor almost non-existent. The good news today is that medical schools are teaching differently, and healthcare teams include nurse practitioners and other healthcare professionals working together. It is not a perfect system yet, but it is light years ahead of how healthcare used to be delivered. And more and more patients and their families are taking charge and demanding understandable information. It is a good thing!!!

  2. Terry Steinmetz says:

    I agree with Dr. Rankin. I have such difficulty living in a small rural community getting my health care physicians to work with my natural medical doctor. I will be trying to find another doctor soon that will work with my ND. I try to explain how I feel about certain issues and usually end up getting blank stares or the “shaking of the head”. As a nurse & a soon-to-be naturopath, I wish to seek all medical options. I try to be as polite as possible. (that makes my b/p go up, but…) I love my ND.

  3. Judi says:

    I question everything my Drs order….Nicely but firmly. I won’t be bullied into doing something or taking something I haven’t had time to research or ask questions about. Most of the time they smile and shake their heads,,,,but usually sit back down to discuss the issues i have,,,They tease me about not trusting them but are very good about talking it out…

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