The Concept of “Patientude”

I’ve only lived in this health and medical environment for not-quite-three years, and I am always in search of opportunities to learn more. I attend workshops, interview doctors and other providers, network with others who do advocacy work, talk to other patients, read, read, read, and mostly just listen. As each day passes by, I learn more. And the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know. Life’s like that.

With each new person I meet (including the air conditioning guy who had to fix our A/C today — thank heavens for the A/C guy!), I am asked, “Every Patient’s Advocate, huh? what does that mean? What do you do?”

Then I have to explain that I’m not a patient’s advocate in the traditional sense. I don’t really help individual patients with their care. I have no formal health or medical training. I hate the sight of blood and I barely passed high school biology.

So what DO I do?

I write. I speak. I write some more. I record my radio show. I give workshops. I write some more. All of which could be activities totally unrelated to healthcare.

I’m a teacher, an author, a webmaster, a speaker, a columnist, a radio talk show host…. all aimed at helping patients help themselves.

Which often begs the question — “If you aren’t a doctor or a nurse or trained in healthcare then how DO you help patients?” Which then leads me to explain why I do the work I do, and what I hope to accomplish…..

Then, finally, the light bulb went off. Just last night, I hit on a word — a new word which I now lay claim to. A word I am inventing, right here and right now…

I am a teacher and trainer of “Patientude” ! Yes — that’s it! I help patients develop the ATTITUDE and the skills they need to get the healthcare they deserve.

It’s not enough to learn how to get ahold of medical records, or how to look up med-speak, or how to decipher a written prescription. It’s about developing a take-charge attitude, sticking up for oneself, communicating respectfully with providers — and expecting the same in return. It’s about taking responsibility for one’s own healthcare decisions and then sharing that attitude with other patients so they can develop their OWN patient-tude!

Are you with me? Do you like that word? Do you buy the concept? What do you think?

Patientude. A word for our times.

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Trisha Torrey
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