“So what would you like to do for this patient?”

Radio Perspective – “So what would you like to do for this patient?”

The patient was a quiet, but friendly woman in her 50’s. She was an overweight diabetic with high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. She was also divorced, unemployed, and had a high school education. This was the summer before my second year of medical school, and I was shadowing a family physician in his clinic in rural Oregon. The answer that he was looking for was to find out why the patient was not taking her medications, and to encourage her to do take her med’s. The answer that I instinctively wanted to give was to encourage to get more exercise, and eat a healthier diet. It would address help with all of her medical conditions simultaneously, and avoid the cost and side effects of the medications.

I would drop out of medical school at the end of that year, for a host of reason. But since then, I learned that there’s a growing awareness within the public health and urban planning communities that we can design cities for people’s health. There’s an element of personal responsibility for lifestyle choices, but we can also make the healthy choice the easy choice, or even better, the default choice.

Wouldn’t you be more likely to walk or bike for short trips if the route were safe and convenient? What if it were a beautiful tree lined path along the river and away from cars? Wouldn’t you be more likely to eat fruits and vegetables if there were fresh, affordable, and available at your local grocery store or farmer’s market? I hope that you have these options in the community where you live, or at least there are people working to make these choices available.

With a perspective, this is Jeff Loi. Hope to see you on the bike path or farmer’s market.

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