Why yes, I am judging you!

Why yes, I am judging you!

This is a question from my forthcoming self-published book, tentatively titled ‘The Practice Test.’  The book will be a series of questions that I consider to be ‘board questions no one ever asks.’  The target audience is those leaving medical school or residency, but it will be equally relevant to college students going into medicine, those in practice, those whose doctors need a laugh and a boost and those whose loved ones are currently practicing in ‘the belly of the beast.’

#14 It’s not the job of the physician to judge any patient; we must be values neutral. True or False.

False! What a ridiculous idea. We make judgments all the time. If you see a child who has been abused, you judge the abuser as bad. If you see a rape victim, you judge his or her assailant as evil and dangerous. If you see a smoker who has COPD, you judge his poor decision making. And when someone refuses to pay your bill, for no good reason, or cheats you with a bad address, you judge that they have committed a wrong!

The thing is, patients are just like us…I mean human (which part surprises you?).   They do good things and bad things.  Sometimes, we need to tell them that a thing is bad.   For instance, I’ve said,  ‘don’t drive drunk, you’ll kill people, like maybe my children!” I’ve gone so far as to say ‘you’re a drug abuser, and you need to quit it and get a job.’ Occasionally, they listen! You see, what we call ‘judging them’ in modern parlance is actually an old-fashioned,  not so subtle way of speaking that rare commodity called truth, and actually subtle way of saying ‘I care about you.’ Many of them act the way they do because no one ever cared enough (namely their parents) to say, ‘quit it!’ Sadly, lots of them would have listened, just in utter surprise that someone did actually notice their existence on earth.

Now, if I call them pieces of ( you know), or if I tell them to ‘go to Hell,’  or if I say they are worthless, I judge them and falsely. And I will answer to God for that. But pointing out painful realities and personal inconsistencies to those entrusted to our care is vitally important. Call it judging if you want.

If properly done, it appears more related to genuine love.


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