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A Doctor’s Note Can Prescribe More Than Medicine

Dec 14, 2020 | Blog, Equity Work

The power of even a short letter written by a physician cannot be overstated.

I’m constantly pulling up the digital letterhead in my EMR to write a note to a service agency, landlord or employer to advocate for a change that I believe is in the best interest of my patient. I’m not talking sick notes — the vast majority of those are useless. But I will recommend an adjustment to the workspace, provision of extra supports, or in one case my declaration that a patient’s cat was indeed a therapeutic service animal.

These small gestures can take only a couple of minutes of our time and have a huge impact on our patients’ lives.

Examples of brief, two to three sentence letters I’ve written:

  • Requesting social services provide nutrition supplement
  • Advising parole officer that patient is attending appointments and taking care of their health
  • Suggesting employer provide accommodation for physiotherapy or counselling appointments

The letters that come after our name come with a lot of influence…until they don’t. I continue to be surprised at the simple requests I make that at times do or do not affect change. But if you don’t write the letter, you’ll never know.

Let me know what kinds of simple letters you write for your patients.

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