Putting the “Care” Back in Healthcare

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Ellicott City, Maryland – I see patients who are down on their luck. Some of them have lost a spouse that they were married to for decades. Some are in the deep rut of depression and can’t seem to get out of its death grip on them. Yet others are mourning the loss of a relationship or job that they had pinned their hopes on. Some have fallen and lost a limb, or hurt their back in a terrible accident, and are undergoing a difficult rehab process to get back on their feet. In short, I see people at their worst. My day is consumed by stories of loss. – lost hope, a lost loved one, lost health, lost fortune, etc., etc., etc.

I am sure most healthcare providers will agree with me here. Even if you are not a behavioral or mental healthcare provider, you see your share of loss every day. It is this loss that we try to reconcile and heal in our own ways, whatever our expertise may be. And for that we need to care for our patients, not in a figurative sense, but in a very literal one.

One of the many definitions of care in the dictionary is as follows – “the provision of what is needed for the well-being or protection of a person or thing.” Hence, we are called to do “what it takes” to protect the well-being of our patients as their healthcare providers. Notice that the word’s meaning is all-encompassing, not partial in any way. Our patients put their sacred trust in us every day and it is a trust that we must respect and protect at all costs. That is why I often give my personal cell phone number to my patients and their families. They can call me any time of the day or night to discuss their many questions and concerns with me. As far as I am concerned, they are my customers to whom I am providing a service. They need to expect a basic principle from me – that I “care” about them.

I often hear physicians and nurses say that they are overwhelmed with the care of their patients. I have tremendous sympathy for them. Our jobs are not easy, and I do not think that they were ever meant to be. I have even written about physician burnout and fatigue in op-eds before. Our patients and their families can often be demanding, disconsolate and ungrateful. I hope we did not enter this profession thinking it would be anything otherwise. We are supposed to be the experts in our respective fields of health care, and as such, we are expected to provide “what it takes” for the patient to heal. Yes, it may mean that you have to miss your daughter’s piano recital, or a dinner date that you had planned with your spouse for a long time. I believe that these costs are nothing compared to the trauma and tribulations of our patients and their families.

We are called in the Hippocratic oath to do no harm to our patients. Let us start by showing that we care for them. Let us put “care” back in healthcare.

Dr. Deepan Chatterjee
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Dr. Deepan Chatterjee is an award-winning Clinical Psychologist, speaker and writer based in Maryland. He has over fifteen years of experience as a licensed clinical psychologist, providing psychiatric evaluations, assessments, psychotherapy, and med consults to a wide variety of patient populations, including seniors, criminal offenders, chronic and acute patients in hospitals, families, couples, students, etc.
Dr. Chatterjee earned M.S. and Ph. D degrees in Clinical Psychology from Howard University in Washington, DC and a B.S. degree in Psychology and Mathematics from Bethany College in West Virginia. He completed his clinical internship and postdoctoral residency at Patuxent Institution, a maximum security correctional complex in Jessup, Maryland.
Dr. Chatterjee maintains professional membership in several national and international organizations, including the American Psychological Association, the Maryland Psychological Association, the Maryland Academy of Medical Psychologists, the Phi Kappa Tau International fraternity, etc. He has held positions of leadership at some time or the other in these organizations and has also been elected a Fellow of the Maryland Psychological Association.
Dr. Chatterjee has given invited talks at several institutional and academic settings, including the American Psychological Association, Maryland Psychological Association, Gallaudet University, Sheppard Pratt Hospital and Baltimore Ethical Society, among others. He is a regular contributor to several media outlets, newspapers and blogs, including The Statesman, The Telegraph, The Baltimore Sun, India Abroad, The Huffington Post, Psych Central and Altarum Institute’s Health Policy Forum, among others. His first collection of short stories and poetry titled “The First Prophetical” was published in 2013 by aois21media, for whom he also serves as a Creative.
Dr. Chatterjee has won several awards throughout his distinguished professional career, including the W.F. Kennedy Prize for Most Outstanding Student at Bethany College in West Virginia, the Hawthorne Dissertation Award for the best dissertation at Howard university in Washington, DC, the J. Franklin McMullan Fraternity Scholarship, to name just a few. He is an avid movie buff and foodie, and is a fan of craft brews and single malt tastings. to You can learn more about Dr. Chatterjee and his work by visiting his website or follow him on Twitter at @DrDeepChat007.

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