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  • Writer's pictureLaura Nozicka

A Neurosurgeon's Perspective on Humility and the Challenges of Patient Care

In the fast-paced world of medicine, uncertainty is an ever-present challenge. From the perspective of a patient, it can be frustrating and disheartening to face a healthcare system that often struggles to provide clear answers. In a thought-provoking podcast episode, guest Dr. Gary Simonds, neurosurgeon novelist and Laura Nozicka, host of The Desperate for a Diagnosis Podcast delve into the importance of embracing uncertainty, honesty, and open-mindedness in the medical field and the implications for both patients and healthcare professionals.

1. Embracing Uncertainty: The Power of Saying "I Don't Know" and Seeking Solutions

One of the most significant takeaways from the podcast is the importance of healthcare professionals feeling comfortable enough to admit when they don't have all the answers. Dr. Simonds emphasizes the need for physicians to acknowledge uncertainty and communicate it honestly to patients. By doing so, they can foster trust and collaboration, allowing for a more patient-centered approach to medical care.

2. Patient Profiling: Shining a Light on Undesirable Patients

Dr. Simonds raises an intriguing question about patient profiling and the potential impact it has on the quality of care. He challenges healthcare professionals to examine their biases and judgments based on a patient's appearance, occupation, or behavior. By recognizing and addressing these biases, physicians can ensure that all patients receive fair and unbiased treatment, regardless of external factors.

3. The Challenges of Seeking Medical Diagnosis: Frustrations and Solutions

The podcast episode also highlights the frustrations and challenges patients face when seeking a medical diagnosis. Dr. Simonds emphasizes the need for physicians to adopt an open-minded approach, considering a wide range of possibilities and involving other specialists when necessary. By acknowledging the limitations of medical knowledge, healthcare professionals can work collaboratively with patients to find effective solutions.

4. The Danger of Judging Patients Based on Their Actions

Another crucial theme discussed is the danger of judging patients based on their actions. Dr. Simonds emphasizes the importance of understanding that pain is subjective and that dismissing patients' concerns can have detrimental effects on their well-being. By practicing empathy and actively listening to patients, healthcare professionals can provide the support and care necessary for optimal outcomes.


Dr. Gary Simonds sheds light on the importance of honesty, open-mindedness, and the recognition of uncertainty in the medical field. By embracing these principles, healthcare professionals can create a more patient-centered approach, fostering trust and collaboration. Patients, on the other hand, can advocate for themselves by seeking physicians who prioritize open communication and are willing to explore various possibilities. Ultimately, by navigating uncertainty together, patients and healthcare professionals can work towards better healthcare outcomes and improved overall well-being.

To hear the entire podcast episode, click here, visit YouTube or listen on your favorite podcast app.

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