It’s not easy to define “good medicine.” When I think of “good medicine,” I think of medical care that isn’t reactive, ponderously slow and inefficient. Good medicine is efficient, impactful, proactive, empowering and curative. Much of medicine treats illness, but good medicine heals it. Much of medicine is based on science but good medicine is based on trustworthy science. Good medicine teaches patients to take better care of themselves, and requires time and effort by providers. It is not easy, but it’s worth every penny invested in it.
We in medicine have a wonderful opportunity to provide good medicine to young men who are, by any measure, medically underserved. This is so because much of young men’s medicine is sexual health or fertility-related and therefore couched in silence or shame. Although not always life-threatening or painful, these issues matter a lot because they greatly affect quality of life. On a grander scale, they also provide an opportunity for medicine to get its “foot in the door” in caring for men so much earlier in their lives than we currently are.
Filling a Void
Here’s how the care of young men can be very good medicine:
- We can catch things early. Bad habits (drugs) and risky behaviors (STDs, accidents) kill many a young man. Taking a deep interest in the lives of young men encourages responsibility and better behavior.
- We can change life trajectories. It’s clear that bad habits when young (food choices) can lead to illness (obesity, diabetes) when older. Encouraging healthy lifestyle choices is key to longevity.
- We can cure what bothers them. Sexual health issues are quite curable. And many treatments require attention and effort from patients. That is a healthy model for empowering men in the future.
- We can predict future health. Fertility and erection issues are now known to be “biomarkers” of future health. Thus, there is an incredible opportunity for providers to practice the holy grail of care: preventative medicine!
- We can get them to trust medicine. Delivering good care to young men leads to trust in the healthcare system later on and to more healthy behaviors.
- We can imbibe a sense of mortality. Young men are not immortal, but simply more robust than older men. The sooner they realize this, the longer they’ll live.
- Health is their best investment. Young men need to know that keeping a body healthy takes attention and work, but it’s also a priceless investment in their future.