I have always automatically asked my new patients, “How can I help you today?”

Apparently that’s not the most empowering phrase to use as it implies that I, as the health care provider am the almighty powerful person who is here to save the day and help a weak and helpless patient. The word “help” implies that I hold the power and that they are broken and need fixing.

I honestly never thought about the word “help” that way, however if my ultimate intention is always to empower my patients and maximize their recovery, then certainly the words I use matter.

I have now replaced the phrase,

“How may I help you?” with

“How may I serve you?”

Serve empowers the patient; they are in charge and my job is NOT to heal them or fix them but to serve them. By using the word “serve” I give the power back to the patient. By using the word “help” I hold the power. Hmm… something to think about!

Reference: Keith Waldron. San Diego Pain Summit February 2019

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