Friday, August 17 , 2018, 12:51 pm | A Few Clouds 76º


Jim Langley: The ‘Patch Adams’ Approach to Relationships

Dr. Hunter “Patch” Adams has been pushing the envelope on the practice of medicine for the past 45 years.

Ever since seeing the movie, Patch Adams, which was released in 1998, I’ve admired the person and his passion to dramatically change the way medicine is practiced around the world. The semi-biographical film starring Robin Williams was not only a box office hit, but also opened the eyes of the movie-going audience to the potential paradigm shift possible in the doctor/patient relationship.

It’s quite simple in Adams’ eyes. The medical and nursing profession simply needs to treat patients as people rather than symptomatic statistics.

If you would like to know more about this remarkable man and his life work, I recommend you get your hands on his book Gesundheit: Good Health is a Laughing Matter.

On a personal note, I recently switched chiropractors when I realized the care I had received over a five-week period had only minimally improved my spinal health! I might have continued on with this doctor had he and his family not taken an extended holiday and referred me to another doctor should I need care during his absence.

It was needed and almost immediately I experienced a much greater level of care from this new doctor. Less than two weeks into my new care plan I realized I had run into my own “Patch Adams” prototype.

Let me attempt to briefly explain the difference in these two professionals.

The first doctor’s approach was very methodical, and he probably sees nearly 100 patients in an eight-hour day. My actual time spent with the doctor was less than five minutes per visit after my initial thorough consultation.

In time, I also noticed that many other patients were receiving similar short treatments and spent a majority of their time having their backs massaged by automated rollers on one of two tables in a separate room. My 30-minute appointments were somewhat therapeutic, but in time I actually sensed I was being slighted in the care received.

The second doctor’s “Patch Adams” approach was quite different. The 15 minutes or more spent with this professional who’s been practicing for 47 years was truly “hands on,” with marked results in only a few days. My pain had greatly subsided, and in short order I was back enjoying playing golf!

This doctor truly cared and took a personal interest in my health and continuously encouraged me with every treatment. I actually look forward to meeting with him and already consider him a new friend.

He reminds me of my best friend. Yes, I’ve concluded that Jesus was the Patch Adams of his time. I don’t know where Adams stands in his personal relationship with God, but I would not be surprised to find out that he was influenced early in his life by the Jesus of the Bible.

You see, Jesus loved the downcast and the downtrodden and He showed empathy to those in need. Yes, He also overturned the tables in the temple courtyard while showing compassion and healing those who believed in Him.

Yet in Matthew 10:32-40 we see the greater calling of Christ as Savior and Lord. We see Jesus not bringing peace to the world but a sword that sets those who follow Him against the ways of this world. This world is corrupt and in great need of change. We all need to be more like Jesus!

In retrospect, I realize I have “Patch Adams” types all around me. My personal physician, my pastor and my CPA all have these qualities and, “by gosh!” I guess I run my own insurance practice along similar lines.

Perhaps we’d all be wise to take a hard look at the way we generally do business and deal with others. I personally strive to place the needs of those God puts in my path above my own personal needs. I know He is pleased by such actions and that’s the true bottom line!

Passages to Ponder

» Matthew 4:23

» Matthew 9:26-28

» Matthew 10:32-40

» Colossians 3:12-15

» Galatians 5:22-26

— Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent in Santa Barbara. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his personal relationship with God, and his goal is to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. As a longtime member of CBMC of Santa Barbara (Christian Business Men’s Connection), he started writing Fourth Quarter Strategies columns in 2014, and he now reaches an international audience through the CBMC International devotional Monday Manna. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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