Setting: It’s 12:59AM, and the classroom is filling with special needs endocrinologists. (You know the ones who do not provide THE BEST care for their thyroid patients.) It’s time for them to live in their patients’ shoes, even if just for a little while. Thank you for coming to observe the class. You may have some pointers to share with the ‘students’ later on.
“Come in, come in. Take your seats, class; we’ll get started as soon as you are all sitting down”
“My, this is a big class!, Well, anyway, Good morning. My name is Sistah Thyresa and I will be your teacher, your guide for this class. I know that it’s very early in the morning, in fact it’s just barely morning, but you are going to be experiencing many things that your patients go through, so get ready, it’s going to be a busy class.
“First of all, let us stand for the Pledge of Thylegiance, “I pledge I don’t hear you;”
What do you mean, you don’t remember the words? Oh, all right, sit down. Let’s work on some math. (Groans in the back of the room)
No moaning back there; get out a pencil and paper. Okay. Little Johnny gets a penny for his allowance starting on Monday, two cents on Tuesday, etc. How much money will he have on the 16th day? On the 21st day?
(Mumbling, muttering, no one is raising their hand with an answer) “Can’t anyone figure this out?! It’s simple math!
Shirley raises her hand, “I have some extra credit; I did a time line all about me”.
“I don’t care about that, Shirley; in fact I don’t want to see it at all. All I care about is what these test scores say, right here (Sistah Thyresa is pointing emphatically to papers on her desk). These test scores say that you are fine! I don’t even know why the heck your here! Sit down!
Mark in the back corner is shivering, raising his hand. “What is it Mark? Oh, you’re cold. Too bad. Go get a sweater from your locker, and come right back. Hurry up!” (While Mark is cold, other members of the class are sweating bullets)
“John, Lucy, Amy over there, if you’re hot, take off your lab coats, for goodness sake, don’t just sit there sweating like pigs. What am I to do with you?”
“Let’s take a snack break so that I can get my wits about me”.
Take out your snacks. I need to see them. If they contain gluten, dairy, or if they have goitergenic properties, into the waste basket they go. “How many people have milk and cookies? Uh oh, into the basket they go…
“Lucy, that raw broccoli and dip looks healthy, but, nope, into the basket. Give me the strawberries young lady. Is that coffee caffeinated, mister?” (Sister Thyresa writes HOMEWORK on the blackboard)
List 10 foods that are OK for persons with thyroid issues to eat.
Here is your first assignment for homework. Don’t worry there will be more to come. No one leaves this class without learning something and without having to learn more.
“John, why are you tapping your foot like that? Restless legs? Well, why don’t you get up and tap dance for the whole class? That will get out some of your restlessness”
In fact, class, let’s get ready for some ‘show and tell’.
(Each student prepares to share something with the class).
“Okay class, we haven’t got all day. Let’s begin. Amy?”
Amy stands and begins to tell the class about her pet beta fish and how it died and made her sad. Sister Thyresa interrupts. “Amy, that’s sad, yes indeed, but enough, we have others to listen to. Thank you, sit down”.
Mark in the back raises his hand, then comes to the front “I participated in a triathlon recently” Sister Thyresa says, “How nice, let’s move on. Sit down”
After a couple more students attempt to participate, but get little response from Sister Thyresa, no one raises their hands anymore. Their long faces give away their feelings.
“Well, why so glum everyone?” asks Sister Thyresa.
“It’s apparent from the looks on your faces that you don’t like the way that I’m conducting this class. What do you want me to say? What more do you want me to do?”
Lucy, speaking quietly, with a little choking sound in her voice responds, “For a teacher, you don’t seem to care much at all about your students”.
Sister Thyresa does not appear aghast or even upset at all. She smiles and nods her head. A+ Lucy. You get it. In just this short time together, you are beginning to understand.”
The other members of the class, a little weary, but wide eyed begin to sit up straighter and listen.
Sister Thyresa takes a chair and sits with her class. “You are doctors. You have learned how to treat, but you have not been taught how to care. You know the terms, the diagnoses, the test scores, but you need to know your patients. You need to CARE about them. Most of all, you need to listen. Validate each of your patients’ concerns. It really doesn’t take that much longer for you. If they know that you care about them as you attempt to care for them. You may not have all the answers, so be honest with them. Explore with your patients. Don’t be afraid to try something new with them. Be patient with your patients. They are persons first.
This class is dismissed. You will have to decide if you pass or fail. That will be determined by you back in your office. Go, and be well.