Spoiler alert – I’m going to address the existence of the Tooth Fairy in this blog so if you don’t want to know whether or not the Tooth Fairy exists, please stop reading now….
My six-year-old son lost a tooth over the weekend which prompted a visit from the Tooth Fairy. The Tooth Fairy comes after dark, long after the child has fallen asleep, the fairy retrieves the tooth from under the pillow and in exchange for the tooth the fairy leaves money. You can see by the picture above the Tooth Fairy did indeed visit and my son awoke to money under his pillow.
The Tooth Fairy you see in the picture might not look like the one you picture in your head or the one that visits your child but when the Tooth Fairy is visiting a six-year-old boy who likes Super Heroes, the fairy in the picture is the fairy of choice.
There’s an iPhone app that allows you to take a picture of a sleeping child and then “insert” the fairy which helps to prove to the child that the fairy exists. The app lets you choose between 10 different “fairies” and begs the question “What does the Tooth Fairy look like” and we all know there is no right, or wrong, answer. The Tooth Fairy is constrained only by the child’s imagination or the choice of characters in the app. Perspective and imagination make a difference.
So let me shift gears and ask “What does a patient look like”. Perspective and imagination make a difference here too. If you work in lab does the patient look like a tube of blood, if you work in imaging does the patient look like black and grey images on a screen, to the nurse on the floor does a patient look like a room number? I don’t believe so but too often this is how patients are referred to. I don’t blame anyone or think anyone is doing less of a job by referring to a specimen, an image or a room but perspective makes a difference.
Truly great care is provided when a patient is more than a test or treatment. Exceptional care is provided when the patient is viewed as a parent, spouse or child because that’s exactly what they are to someone. To someone, that patient is the most important person in the world just as they would be if he or she were your parent, spouse or child so perspective matters. Care goes beyond our job and our role, care involves imagination, and imagining what it would be like if you were in the patient’s shoes or if the patient were your loved one changes one’s perspective. Care changes when it’s personal as do expectations and patients should expect, and should receive, the same care you’d want for yourself or your family.
What’s the Tooth Fairy look like? Who knows, the Tooth Fairy is fictional and he, or she, looks different to every child the only requirement is that the child believe.
What’s a patient look like? That’s easy, a patient looks like you or me or our child or parent. No two patients are alike but they all have the same requirement. They need to believe we are treating them the same way we would if they were our family. Perspective and imagination are important and perspective and imagination are defined and demonstrated through empathy and compassion.