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teamTo accomplish anything in life, we must have support. Nothing really happens in a vacuum; we need people who are willing to “pour into us.” In other words, people who are on our team. Whether we are raising children, advancing in a career, learning a new skill, or (more likely) a combination of these and other things, we need to know someone has our back. We, no only, need people cheerleading from the sidelines, but also on the field with us. And let’s be honest, not everyone in your life is on your team. How can we tell teammates from opponents or those merely watching from the sidelines? To start they are encouragers, they tell the truth with compassion, they help in any way they can, and mostly they believe in YOU!

I think most of us have a good sense of the “team” among our friends, family, and even work; however, one often overlooked area is healthcare. When it comes to our health, we frequently find demanding coaches or even (dare I say) dictators, directing choices without much consent from the patient. It seems there is a lot of, “I am the expert and you are not, so do what I say and stop asking questions.” mentality going around in all fields of medicine and healing arts. In fact, a 2009 article in The Atlantic called “Power to the Patient” complains of the age-old-mantra: doctor knows best. But if a healthcare practitioner or doctor doesn’t treat you like a team member, a stake-holder and important to the shaping of your own care, then they may not be on your team. The thing you must understand is that they work for you. You are the boss, and you can fire them.

So, who is on your team, and how many people do you need? That question needs to be answered individually, but I’d like to give some personal guidelines. First, healthcare team members should be willing to answer questions and help you thoroughly understand what is happening. Second, team members will not make you feel stupid for asking questions. Third, team members should also be cheerleaders, encouraging their patients to take hold of their own health. And finally, they should provide whatever tools they have to equip their patients for self-care.

As to how many people or professionals should be on your team: that is personal. I would encourage searching out professionals from various backgrounds, which will give a wider view of health. I would also encourage surrounding yourself with as many people as you can who will support your desire for a healthy lifestyle.
In summary, it is very important for all of us to find and surround ourselves with a great “team.” And remember, we are each others’ teammates too!

To Your Health

[1] Clayton M. Christensen and Jason Hwang. “Power to the Patients” The Atlantic 2009