Do you have a vivid memory of when a dialysis patient has fired you? I do. It was 8 years ago, when I was going through a hard time in my life. I was crushed, but it inspired me to investigate why. He told me that I was not present for him and he wanted to transfer units. Fast forward 6 years later; I transferred into his dialysis unit. The social worker bartered the conversation, and asked him to give me a second chance. I apologized to him for the past, and created an accountability partnership with him that we would give each other feedback as to how things were going. In this vulnerable conversation with him, I admitted my faults, and how I had failed him in the past. Being authentic about your inauthenticities shows vulnerability, courage, and can inspire like-minded change from our patients. Moreover, having the courage to frequently self evaluate as to how your work/life balance, personal health, stress level and mindset impacts energy level and how you “show up” with you patients is key to a long term career as a caregiver.
Over the last 2 years, he was able to reach new goals in his overall care (significant weight loss, improved activity with his family, improved quality of life) as our reciprocal relationship created an opportunity for Joe to become accoutible with himself. “If my doctor is accountable to both himself and her/his patients, so should I.” We had many wonderful conversations about life, and this path has led to mutual trust, respect and appreciation for one another.
We are opening another dialysis unit locally, and I was transferring again to that new unit. When I handed his care off to my partner this week, Joe and I hugged, and the smile he gave me said it all - we all need to believe in second chances. Our dialysis patients are hoping for and counting on this very thing as it relates to their own health. Show them it’s possible by owning your inauthenticities.
By Dr. Shoemaker, Nephrologist at Colorado Kidney Care