Imagine for a minute that you are a parent and you receive a digital message from your child’s teacher stating that one of your child’s test scores was well below the typical range of “normal” and that further testing was needed. You go ahead with this, allowing your child to take several other tests to determine the underlying problem that surfaced in the original test.
The additional tests confirm that your child does indeed have a deficit. You call and ask to speak to the teacher. Your teacher, again in a digital message, tells you that your child needs to enroll in a tutoring program, one that your independent online research shows that children in your child’s similar situation, need to stay in for life otherwise they will return to this “deficit level”. Oh, and this tutoring service may or may not have some adverse side effects for your child.
You would want to talk to your child’s teacher. You may be surprised that they have not reached out to you to discuss the matter. You would call. And if you called and the office told you that she was busy but either the teacher or the teacher’s aide would call you back to answer your questions, you may politely wait, although it is getting hard for you to both be polite and to wait.
The next day the aide calls you and almost verbatim reads back to you the digital message from the teacher, adding perhaps a little bit more information. When you ask questions, ones that want to get to the root of the problem, ones that want to know what would happen if you simply did not go forward with the tutoring, the aide gets abrupt and angerly tells you that you need to schedule an appointment with the teacher (something you had already asked to do). You are proud of yourself for keeping your composure and continuing to remain polite.
So you call to set up an appointment. You get a 15 minute appointment scheduled a couple days out. Oh, and you have to pay $40 for this appointment.
Of course, this would not happen in my teacher/parent scenario (at least I would hope not!), but it did happen to me in a doctor/patient dynamic.
My $40, 15 minute appointment is today. I have not started the medication I was told to start a week ago, because I still have unanswered questions. I feel there is value in actually discussing a treatment plan, one that is lifelong, with my medical provider instead of just rolling with it using information gleaned from the internet. I did, however, schedule the ultrasound.
The C word was very tentatively mentioned, almost as if it was a footnote in tiny font at the bottom of a multiple paged document. The situation revolves around my thyroid, of which there is a family history of treatable and not scary diagnoses, so I am not terribly concerned about that, yet.
In order to make sense of it, to rationalize my feelings and to convince myself that asking to talk to my doctor is not crazy, I tried the scenario out using the teacher/parent model, because it is what I know. I am a teacher, a professional with a master’s degree. I do not know of a single teacher who would conduct “business” in this way. I know I certainty wouldn’t. I am also a parent and have never been treated this way by an educator.
It is the impersonal, almost authoritarian feel of the way all this has been handled that has me bristled. If I were a dog, my hackles would be up and my teeth would flashing. But my tail would also be tucked in fear.