Puja Thomson leads her discussion, "You, the Empowered Patient"
Puja Thomson began her discussion, “You, the Empowered
Patient,” by introducing herself through the experiences that have shaped her
perspective on healing. Through growing up in Scotland and living in the United
States she has been exposed to two very different health care systems. The specialization
of medicine in the United States has a tendency to disempower patients. The
goal of “You, the Empowered Patient” is to help patients reclaim their power.
Organize your Wellness Journey
Being empowered means taking charge of your medical
challenge. Puja Thomson said, “As a competent adult, it is your legal
responsibility to make decisions, not anyone else, including your doctor.” The
audience received three handouts to help them organize their wellness journey. The
first handout stressed the importance of preparing for a medical appointment
and gave guidelines. The second suggested questions to ask your doctor during annual
health visits. The third offered questions to ask your doctor when you don’t
feel well, such as, “What is my diagnosis? What is my treatment? What should I
do if symptoms worsen? Should I have a follow up appointment?”
My Hope & Focus Organizer,
Thomson, is a tool to simplify, track and support all aspects of your cancer
experience. Puja Thomson is working on an updated version applicable to any
The audience shared experiences and difficulties they have with
their doctors and insurance companies. One of the audience members spoke about feeling
intimidated when doctors used jargon they couldn’t understand. One attendee
mentioned their grievance with the lack of communication between their doctors.
It is important to speak up and ask your doctor to slow down and talk so that
you can understand. Puja Thomson said, “Sometimes you must decide if a doctor
who is impolite, but skilled, is right for you.” Audience members described
feeling disempowered by insurance companies. Puja Thomson advised the audience
to use their support system to help them read forms, “Do not sign anything you
do not understand.” Consider your perspective on health care and what approach
to medicine you are comfortable with. Healing depends on attitude, and your
attitude improves when you trust your doctor.
systems are essential to your wellness journey. “Don’t go it alone,” Puja
Thomson passed on helpful advice she often received. You are especially
vulnerable when you go to the doctor’s office feeling sick. It’s important to
feel grounded. Having someone with you at an appointment can help you interpret
what your doctor says and relieve the shock of a diagnosis. Several attendees
spoke about their good experience with the apothecary in Saugerties as a
support system in their community.
stresses the use of reason and logic; intuition is often ignored. Trust
yourself. Consider your own opinions as well as those of professionals, friends
and family. Puja Thomson asked, “How much do you trust your intuition in determining
the type of treatment and doctor that is right for you?” The responses varied,
but everyone agreed on the importance of self-advocacy. To be an empowered
patient you must be your own advocate.