Health Semantics 101: "Cure" vs. "Heal"

It's challenging to explain to people in my family what I do for a living.

God love 'em, they do keep trying to understand.

Conversations about healthcare innovation and reform range from the dangers that result from penultimate our fear of dying (with grandmother Muz) to the dangerous spending patterns of our nation as a whole.

My sister Kate is now fond of saying: "Hey Jenny, can you hurry up and save healthcare already?" or, alternately, "Jen - Who killed healthcare?"

Recently several folks in my family joined Twitter to track work/life escapades, and communicate where we are (no matter where in the world we've landed) on any given Sunday.

Although I've found tweeting excrutiatingly valuable for work, I didn't expect family presence on Twitter to demonstrate professional relevance quite so quickly

After HealthCampPhilly (Saturday), my mom (@susanmccabe), who is a behavioral health nurse (going on +10 years now), saw a tweet I posted about 'cure' vs. 'heal.'

She left me this note in response:

"A cure is an expected, narrowly defined destination. Healing is a journey with unexpected twists and turns.

For a cure, the provider's role is pass or fail.

As a part of healing, the caregiver accompanies the patient on their journey, meeting them where they are at any given time, and having a supportive role even to the end.

There's always hope for healing."

-Susan McCabe, RN, 3.29.09


Do you see a doctor, go to a hospital, because you expect to be CURED or because you hope to HEAL?

My belief? A 'cure' happens to you. But healing is a process in which you, the person-who-is-also-a-patient, are the primary participant.

Yeah. This is all just wordplay.

But language matters, especially when we're talking about the little things like, oh, life and death. Healing and hope.


Which process, curing or healing (both? neither?), do you feel is within your scope of control to manage?

Or do you feel locked out of participation in either?




Posted via web from Jen's posterous

1 comment:

Lodewijk Bos said...

My compliments Jen, a really great post!!