By Avery Keatley
“Trust me, I’m a doctor.” My brother would say this to point out that my sister and I were gravely misguided about some very obvious fact (e.g. “The sky is purple; trust me, I’m a doctor.”) Needless to say, at 16, he wasn’t a doctor. But joking about it brings up some interesting implications and issues that real doctors face when it comes to trust.
Most people are very willing to take the advice of people in white lab coats. They are people we esteem highly in our society, and we assume they are worthy of our trust. The majority I’ve come across are. But what happens when the doctors come to people usually for research, instead of people coming to them?
Doctors need to be tactful and sincere when entering a neighborhood, especially if they’re looking to recruit for research. To barge into a neighborhood boasting about improvement if they know nothing about it is downright colonial. That’s why doctors connect first with trusted community leaders. It’s not enough to have a stethoscope; in a new place, you need a relationship with the people, first.
Currently, we’re brainstorming with pastors from Homewood, asking them how we can help serve their community. The resounding consensus? Education.
“We need to be educated [about asthma] to get the word out,” said Rev. Miller. All of the community leaders we spoke with repeated the need for educational materials, that just coming to run a workshop won’t cut it. It leaves them without resources after a one-day affair. There needs to be follow up to grow the relationship between researcher and community. That’s where the focus needs to be. It’s not enough to say, “Trust me, I’m a doctor.”