Recently, we heard Anthony Fauci say “It’s nothing personal. It’s strictly business.” I am a huge fan of Fauci and he belongs to a generation that loves quoting The Godfather. His comment was in response to a question on his methods for dealing with political leaders, particularly those he may not agree with. “You stay completely apolitical and non-ideological, and you stick to what it is that you do. I’m a scientist and I’m a physician. And that’s it.” However, scientists like Dr. Fauci know that disease and death are very personal. As much as we like the epic story, The Godfather, we are not a bunch of gangster families. That is a major reason why I am not a fan of the phrase, “It is not personal” particularly when used in healthcare.
For a patient or a loved one, healthcare is personal because
…. We are humankind. Being alive is personal. Being disease-free and being healthy is personal.
…. The suffering that disease brings to the human body and mind is extremely personal, something that others can only try to imagine.
…. Filing for bankruptcy or losing one’s home because of disease, ouch, it hurts.
…. Losing a loved one to an illness that could have been prevented is irreversible.
…. No one has control over where they are born, the genes they inherit, or the social and political environments they grow up in, that have a major influence on developing disease and on dying.
For someone who provides healthcare in any capacity, i.e., physician, nurse, administrator, etc., it is very personal because
…. We are trained to treat disease and save lives. Losing one’s patient feels like defeat on some level.
…. Human suffering is draining emotionally and physically; it feels like one’s efforts may never be enough to prevent or mitigate suffering in everyone.
…. Seeing patients suffer not because of medical problems but from social and financial problems is very frustrating.
…. When medical treatments exist, but you are unable to offer them to a patient for some reason or you cannot deliver the care that is possible, it is very concerning.
…. For some diseases like covid19, we don’t understand enough about the disease and we haven’t developed effective treatments yet, although our scientists are working fast and furious.
…. Every “save” feels very personal and is a reason for joy!
I can go on and on. Need I say more?