Mary Beth Selby

Mary Beth Selby: A Patient’s Perspective on Healthcare

Mary Beth Selby gives us a patient’s perspective on healthcare in this episode of the Perspectives on Healthcare podcast with Rob Oliver. Mary Beth and her family live in South Carolina. Although, she has lived in many places around the United States and references the differences in the healthcare approach from each region. This interview comes from the Guinness World Record Setting patient’s perspective interview marathon. It is interview 50 in the series.

As I mentioned in the intro, we had to skip interview 49 because of poor audio quality. You can read the transcript of that fascinating interview with Kimberly Gillis on the Perspectives on Healthcare website:

Here are 3 things that stood out as we heard a patient’s perspective on healthcare from Mary Beth Selby. I will point out this fact, Mary Beth is a writer and conveyed her thoughts both powerfully and sustainably. Hence, some of these points are very short:

  • Nurses are always her healthcare heroes!
  • Mic drop moment: Quality healthcare is healthcare professionals who listen.
  • Medical professionals can improve healthcare quality by taking the time to understand each patient as a person.

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Here is the text of Mary Beth Selby presenting A Patient’s Perspective on Healthcare from the Patient’s Perspective Interview Marathon:

Introduction to Mary Beth Selby

Rob Oliver: Welcome to the podcast, my friend.

Mary Beth Selby: Hello, Rob. It’s great to see you.

Rob Oliver: Very nice to see you also. And no, your connection was not bad. It was her connection and I was going to try and figure out how to reset it. But her story was so powerful and I thought getting bits and pieces of it was better than nothing at all. So we’ll go with it that way.

Mary Beth Selby: I was a bit worried, but I’m glad it’s not me.

Rob Oliver: So, standard question that we will start with. What is your name?

Mary Beth Selby: My name is Mary Beth Selby.

Rob Oliver: And where are you from, Mary Beth?

Mary Beth Selby: Well, we are currently living in South Carolina, just under the border from Charlotte. So, technically in the greater Charlotte area.

Rob Oliver: Fantastic. One of my favorite areas simply because there is Bojangles in that area.

Mary Beth Selby: Oh my gosh, the Bojangles sauce. It’s amazing, right?

Rob Oliver: It’s my kryptonite. It’s just terrible. Honest to goodness truth, I have been doing low carb diet for about five years now. And one of the only times that I will come off of that is when we’re driving through and, you know, I got to pick up my Bojangles. It tickles my happy spot or something. I don’t know what it is, but it’s good.

Mary Beth Selby: Well, next time skip Bojangles and just come to our house. It’ll be great.

Rob Oliver: You tempt me so. So, let’s start here. Can you tell me about yourself and your experiences in healthcare?

Mary Beth Selby: Well, I have some traditional and non-traditional experiences with healthcare. I’m not in the healthcare profession myself, but my most recent experience with it was I was hospitalized with COVID for four days. In September. So that was an interesting and rather lonely experience in healthcare. Some other unique things that we I have seen in my lifetime that maybe others have not involved. A long term stay in hospital for my my parent, you know, my dad and as well as my in-laws, as well as some end of life care for my in-laws, which is a kind of a unique experience. Some things that I’ve experienced that everyone else has, I’m sure lots of people have, you know, as a mom of three, as you know, there’s lots of visits to health care with with the kids. They, you know, health care professionals got me through my first year of being a mom for sure. And I have also noticed that living in different areas where I’m originally from Connecticut, as you know, but your viewers will not. But I’m originally from Connecticut. And so I lived there most of my life. Then we lived in Washington State for five years. And now we’re in South Carolina. So I have found it interesting that there are different different methods of health care, I guess. I’m not sure method is the right word, but different perspectives on it in the different areas that I’ve lived.

Rob Oliver: The way that health care is practiced in different areas is is varies or, you know, can you talk about that a little bit?

Mary Beth Selby: Sure. I think, you know, coming from Connecticut, I, I feel like that the health care and again, I’m just coming from the perspective of kind of a family practitioner, you know, nothing extreme, except when we were in the hospital with my in-laws. But definitely the Northeast area is a very specialized. I think everybody is a specialist. You know, you have to have a pediatrician. You have to have a, you know, and you have to have a skin care specialist, which is great because they’re all very, very good at what they do. But what I found when we moved out to Washington, which I really loved, was that there’s so much more holistic in their health care. So when we signed up for a primary care physician, we signed up with someone who took everybody, you know, me, my husband, my three girls who are all under age 12 at the time. So she was everything to everyone. And it worked out well in terms of she understood our family dynamics. She understood our history. She understood even some of our genetic pieces that come came along with that. And it was just a different way of looking at things that I found very, very helpful for my family.

Rob Oliver: Yeah.

Mary Beth Selby: Definitely.

Rob Oliver: When you had the opportunity to experience the different practices in different areas, and you can find out, you know, what works for you, were you able to find something in South Carolina that was that gives you like that Washington approach or are you back closer to the Connecticut approach or kind of where are you in the continuum?

Mary Beth Selby: I think we’re kind of in the middle here. I do. I think they are leaning more toward the Washington side of things where, you know, I, my primary care physician is the same as my husband’s and and the children, but I do think it’s less of a focus on the on the whole. So I do still think it feels more broken up in terms of everybody sees each other, but they don’t really put the whole picture together, which I, I just found they did really well at the place in Washington. It could just have been my individual doctor. You know, I mean, sure, you never really know.

Encountering a Healthcare Hero

Rob Oliver: Understood. Have you encountered a healthcare hero in your in the various places that you’ve been.

Mary Beth Selby: Well, I wouldn’t say I’ve encountered one in every place, but, you know, I, I’m guessing you’ve probably heard this. All through your last thirteen hours, but I’m just going to say that every single hero story I have in the healthcare profession involves a nurse. Like the nurses are always my heroes.

Rob Oliver: I’ll just stop you right here. Say tweetable moment right now. The nurses are always my heroes. Signed, Mary Beth, right?

Mary Beth Selby: Yeah. Which if I were still on Twitter, I would tweet it for you, but I’ve been off for years. I just can’t handle it anymore.

Rob Oliver: Okay, there you go. Well, I’m not asking whether Elon Musk buying it is going to bring you back or not. We don’t need to get into that.

Mary Beth Selby: Oh, no, please don’t. Yes.

Rob Oliver: It’s all good, but do please continue about you’re talking about nurses being the heroes.

Mary Beth Selby: They, they always are. I think all of my experiences in terms of anything that was not necessarily a traumatic event, but just. A very strong event, you know, being in the hospital with my in laws, you know, there was that one nurse who. She just got us through with with with my mother in law, and she was very, very close to passing away and. There’s so many emotions, and there’s so many different emotions from different people, and everyone reacts differently and she really. The ICU nurse that was with us just was a godsend. She was a gift from God. I mean, she just helped all of us deal with it in our own way and she talked us through it. And she appreciated even when there were moments when we were. We became silly about something, you know, like, and you and you think you like, kind of jump back in horror and you’re like, oh, no, I’m laughing and and she was like, this is so normal. You know, this is really a normal reaction and she just. She just made it such a real and understandable and livable moment. You know, I I just think if she weren’t there, it would have been very, very difficult. It was very difficult anyway. Don’t get me wrong, but no.

Rob Oliver: Understood. Do you remember her name? We’ll give her a give her a real life shout out right now.

Mary Beth Selby: I don’t. I’m sorry, it was just such a crazy. I want to say her name was Rosa, but I’m not positive. So it’s my husband might remember because it was his mom.

Rob Oliver: Not a problem. Nurse Rosa or something similar you rock and we recognize you as a health as a health care hero and. I think that there is a recurring theme in that. That yes, nurses are the ones and this is what was said earlier, that nurses see the person when the doctor sees the diagnosis. And that’s the that’s the essential dichotomy between the two of them and one of those. One of those you’re being you get the feeling of of holistic. Get the feeling of value, get the human connection and the other. It’s almost you’re segmented and you’re viewed not for who you are, but for one small descriptor of you, which is whatever diagnosis you’re currently experiencing. What’s your reaction to that?

Mary Beth Selby: And there’s there’s a well, I agree. I do, you know, to give the doctors their do their their brilliant and they they’re they need to do their job. They need to do what they need to do in the moment, and it’s it is more difficult for them to focus on the details that make you the person rather than your diagnosis. So, while I agree with it, I just think the nurses are in a unique position to be able to do that. They’re with you more, you know, even when I think back to when I was having my diagnosis. You know, the nurses are there for hours and hours and hours with you, and the doctors there for, like, five minutes, you know?

Rob Oliver: Sure. OK, and you actually lead me into this question, and that is, do you think that it is the style of what they do, the substance of what they do, or do you think that it is the style of what they do?

Mary Beth Selby: That’s a tough one. That wasn’t in your list of questions, Rob.

Rob Oliver: I think in there it said, I may ask some follow up and I may ask for clarification. So that falls under the other questions as needed or something, right?

Mary Beth Selby: No, I think it’s a combo. I mean, I think it depends on the person. I’ve had nurses who like blew in and blew out quickly and didn’t spend the time. But I do think they’re there more. They connect with the person more and they have, they just have, it’s not just the more time is what I’m saying. It’s the connection with the person.

Rob Oliver: Okay. Yeah. So I knew that this was gonna happen with us because we are of this kindred spirit. We have three minutes and three questions.

Mary Beth Selby: Oh no, that’s not doable. Do we need to get through all five for you to still keep your world record?

Rob Oliver: We’ve got to be pretty close.

Mary Beth Selby: Okay, go for it.

Quality Health Care Definition

Rob Oliver: All right, so what does quality healthcare mean to you?

Mary Beth Selby: Okay, I can make this really fast. Quality healthcare is people who listen. Healthcare professionals who listen.

Rob Oliver: Okay, beautiful.

Mary Beth Selby: That’s all.

Rob Oliver: We’re gonna have to, I don’t know, Instagram that or something since you’re not on Twitter, but quality healthcare is people who listen. Succinct and yet so poignant. Powerful, thanks for saying that Mary Beth.

Mary Beth Selby: Absolutely.

What medical providers need to understand

Rob Oliver: What do you wish your medical providers understood about you?

Mary Beth Selby: This was a hard one for me to think about. I wish that they understood that I am not just, and this applies across the board, not necessarily just doctors, but usually it’s doctors. I wish they understood that I’m not just a number on their chart or a weight on their BMI chart or an age of a person. I just would like them to understand that there’s so much more happening. I’m gonna say an undisclosed age. I’m not gonna actually say my age, but as a certain aged mom, I probably have younger kids than many other people my age do. So they need to know that. It’s not just that I could be postmenopausal or I could be premenopausal. They just kind of have those, they love to slot you into little slots. So that would be my one wish is that they would not do that.

Rob Oliver: So to me, I think that one of the things that happens is doctors have limited time and medical professionals in general have limited time. And sometimes the quicker that they can move to a judgment, the quicker that they can categorize things, the quicker that they can move forward and you end up with, they’re not listening to the whole thing. They’re not getting the full picture before they make those categorizations. That is actually a word, so it’s all good.

Mary Beth Selby: You’re doing really well for 13 hours, Rob. You’re doing great.

Improving Health Care Quality

Rob Oliver: Yeah, so we’re surviving, it’s not so bad. All right, Mary Beth, last question for you. What is one thing medical professionals can start doing today to improve the quality of healthcare?

Mary Beth Selby: Okay, I’m gonna just sound like a broken record here because of all my, you have to listen and you have to do this. You can’t slot me into a thing, but you just have to take the time to put the person in perspective. You cannot, it’s just a repeat. I feel like I’m repeating my last answer, but it’s so important that I’m gonna say it again. You have to take the time to understand me as a person. It’s the one thing you can do.

Rob Oliver: As a parent, you understand this. Sometimes you have to say something twice before people will listen to it and hear it, right?

Mary Beth Selby: Exactly.

Rob Oliver: There’s, I don’t know if the first one is inaudible or it just doesn’t penetrate and it needs to be reinforced. So I’m giving you full license to say it twice because it is important and it bears repeating. And yeah, it’s fantastic.

Mary Beth Selby: Excellent.

Rob Oliver: Mary Beth, thank you so much for joining me. Thank you so much for sharing. Thank you for cramming all of that stuff into three minutes. You did exactly…-

Mary Beth Selby: Thank you for letting me talk. It’s awesome.

Rob Oliver: Oh, yeah. It’s wonderful. I appreciate you. And listen, I’m very proud of myself for not messing up and calling you any trucker names or anything like that.

Mary Beth Selby: I will tell my husband that you said that.

Rob Oliver: Right, wonderful. I respect you and I respect your perspective on healthcare.

Mary Beth Selby: Okay, good luck, Rob.

Disclaimer: All opinions expressed by guests on the Perspectives on Healthcare Podcast are solely the opinion of the guest. They are not to be misconstrued as medical diagnoses or medical advice. Please consult with a licensed medical professional before attempting any of the treatments suggested.

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