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EDITOR: How to write a thank-you note … to a Physician’s Spouse

“We routinely show our gratitude to the Doctor’s in our lives, yet too often we neglect to remember the most important person in their life …”

~Michael Tetreault, Editor-In-Chief, The Doctor’s Expanded Guide to Concierge Medicine

Enroll in CMTs “FOR DOCTORS FORUM” – a Virtual online community for Doctors — with online/on-demand courses and interactive video training, marketing and growing your healthcare practice with insight from YOUR PEERS, physician leadership and business advice, surveys, checklists, polls and insight on how to thrive as an entrepreneurial Physician — Sign Up Free, Browse Courses — Start Growing Today … FREE!

The most popular story to date here at Concierge Medicine Today (CMT) is our “How to write a thank you note” series of articles.

That’s amazing. Our Physician readers, nurses, staff and even Patients of Concierge Doctors who are also our readers have sent us handwritten notes, typed letters, emails and direct messages telling us how they’ve shown their appreciation and gratitude to the Physician or healthcare provider in their life.

Today, we turn our attention in the direction of the most important person in a Physician’s life … their significant other, their spouse, a sposa (italian) for spouse. It has even been given its own term, DrSpouse.

Interesting.

However, little attention is usually given to this beating heart that speaks words of wisdom, provides advice and grounds the one that cares for all of us.

Whether the spouse is a fellow healthcare provider, surgeon or a teacher, their role in the life of a Physician is remarkable, thus to us, is worth remarking about.

So how can we, how do we acknowledge the time, the energy, the behind-the-scenes moments that are often invisible to us all? Well, we’ve talked to a few spouses recently and over the years and would like to share their insights with you.

Unfortunately, this is an area where few experts have traveled. No medical association breakouts, webinars or events discuss these topics at conferences either.

Except, the Concierge Medicine Forum.

What is interesting is that in the top two highest divorce rate occupations are Doctors and Clergy.

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Oddly enough, there are a few churches that are trying to do something about “Spouse Appreciation.” That’s somewhat encouraging. Ministries and churches are now trying to lower that divorce rate and acknowledge the role a spouse plays by hosting “Pastor’s Wife Appreciation Month”, gift plaques, gift cards and gift baskets on a routine basis.

But back to the business of medicine.

Where’s the acknowledgement, gift cards, gift baskets or even a handwritten note?

Crickets …

Shutterfly even talks about this and provides several helpful examples. They say “Many people underestimate the power of a simple handwritten thank you note. These days it seems easy to send a quick email, text message or phone call. They all get the job done, right? But a handwritten thank you note says more. It says that you went out of your way to sit down and write to those who did something for you. A handwritten thank you note conveys thoughtfulness and sincerity and is the perfect way to express your gratitude to anyone and for any occasion.”

Writer, avid quilter, Hallmark.com blogger and Mom, Jeanne Field says “The hardest part of writing a thank-you note, for many, is just starting it.”

So what are some kind, thoughtful and encouraging ways to show the *significant other* in the Doctor’s life some simply acknowledgement for their role in helping a Physician succeed?

We can borrow some ideas actually from the hospitality, gift and church areas actually.

  1. Don’t Complain to the Spouse about the Doctor – Because Doctors often endure vicious criticism, bitterness can easily slip from our brain and out our mouth. No spouse likes to watch his/her loved one get berated. Refrain from sharing anything negative to the spouse that might discourage him/her in the practice.
  2. Don’t Treat the Spouse Like a Free Staff Member – More than likely, the spouse does not work in the practice. But, if they do, please be aware that many medical practice’s and staff may unknowingly place extra expectations on the Doctor’s spouse. This can lead to expedited fatigue at work and in the marriage. Placing unrealistic expectations onto a spouse that works in or outside of the practice are harmful.
  3. A Gift Card – A gift card to a local spa or favorite coffee shop or local restaurant for a night out for just the two of them and a thoughtful card once a quarter will go along way as a source of encouragement and appreciation. Hint: This is often times more meaningful and appreciated by both the Physician and their spouse … and costs less than a salary increase. It’s often these little notes and gift cards that allow the Doctor and his spouse to sneak away for a date night with one another.
  4. Send a Handwritten Note or Thank You Card – Being a Doctor’s spouse is largely a thankless job. Staff, colleagues and leadership from the Physician’s office is rarely acknowledged by “the practice”. Show your appreciation to the Doctor’s spouse by sending a card or letter providing specific examples of their help over the past month, quarter or year. Thank them for all that they do behind the scenes and let them know that you appreciate their time, energy and dedication.

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But we also understand that for many of your colleagues, team members, Boards, Nurses, PAs, Office Managers and the like working in healthcare, you love this idea, but it’s still a little awkward.

“We prefer you get matching BLANK note cards and envelopes. They don’t have to be fancy, parchment or embossed. Start simple but start with a blank or empty card. Buying a set of Thank You cards printed with Thank you on it, can limit your creativity and point of entry or occasion for writing in the first place.” ~Editor/Author, Michael Tetreault

Here are a few more reasons to get you motivated.

I love what Truett Cathy, the former CEO and Founder of Chick-Fil-A once said, “The universal sign that someone needs encouragement is if they are still breathing.”

Stop over-thinking gratitude.

You may already have tried writing a handwritten note to a Patient and have recently seen the fruit of your labor.

And it’s not just the recipient who benefits. Studies show that people who express appreciation are more optimistic, as well as physically and emotionally healthier. Imagine the smile you’ll see from your Physician walking around the corner when they learn that you cared enough to care about their spouse.

This little stuff matters.

To further inspire and encourage you to take START, one of your peers, a Physician turned entrepreneur commented on a CMT post just yesterday about this topic happening in Concierge Medicine in February 2021 on LinkedIn and wrote “It would be fabulous if we could realistically scale kindness.”

Here are some additional ways to “start” writing a Thank You Card to your Physician’s spouse or a handwritten note.

  • 2021 – Recent CMT Instagram comments received from Physicians about the topic of “Thank You Notes” to Patients.

    The Purpose Behind the Card

    • Just say a little hello
    • It’s been a while since I’ve seen you in the office
    • Recent diagnosis
    • Recent accomplishment of weight-loss goal (or other lifestyle goal you are aware of)
    • Special Occasions
    • An invitation you received (but won’t be attending)
    • Just Because
    • Kind Words the Patient said to you
    • Kind Words the Patient said to your staff
    • Bereavement
    • A graduation in their family
    • A gift they brought you (or your entire staff)
    • A Thank You for remembering your birthday

Lydia Ramsey, a business etiquette expert and author of Manners That Sell – Adding the Polish That Builds Profits, suggests mentioning the specific effect on your team or organization. For example, “Thank you for coming in on your day off. You helped us finish our project on time and set a great example for everyone involved.”

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Similarly, the CEO of BELFOR Holdings writes 9,200 notes each year: at least one for each of the company’s employees. He writes birthday cards, thank you notes, and well-wishes to employees’ kids when they are sick. Whenever he flies on business, he travels with a full supply of stationery.

Don’t Wait For A Reason

The Psychological Science study looked specifically at what they call “just because” notes—written just to check-in, cheer someone up, or let them know you were thinking of them. Once again, senders greatly undervalue the power of such a simple gesture.

Forbes contributing writer, Naz Beheshti, wellness coach and business consultant recently writes … Making a habit of saying thank you should be only one part of intentionally creating a culture of recognition at your organization. Employees who do not feel recognized are twice as likely to be searching for another job as those who do.

To access this exclusive CMT webinar and Physician Interview, please click here …

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  • The Beginning | How to Start | What to Write

    • This is your chance to say the two most important words in the card-thank you. Although it might seem like two short words, there are many different ways to say thanks. Just like a smile or a kind, insignificant gesture to a Patient you can tell needs a little more attention today, remember who you are speaking to and use your own personal communication style when choosing how and what to write to them. Some examples of how to do this include:
      • It made my day when…
      • Thank you so much for…
      • Thanks a million…
      • I want to sincerely thank you for…
      • I appreciate that you…
      • I can’t get over how grateful I am for…
      • I wanted to give my many thanks for…
  • Recent CMT Instagram message we received from a Concierge Medicine Physician about the importance of “Handwritten Notes” to Patients.

    The Middle (Tip! Be Specific)

      • “This has been a challenging time, and I appreciate your kind words so much.”
      • “You have no idea how much your kind words meant to our staff and I.”
      • “There was nothing random about your acts of kindness. Thank you.”
      • “I can never thank you enough. But this is a start.”
      • “You always know how to make life brighter for everyone in our office.”
      • “You are always so helpful.”
      • “You make the world and our community a nicer place.”
      • “You went above and beyond, and we are so grateful for you.”
      • “You took common courtesy to an uncommon level. We’re so grateful for your help.”
  • The End
    • Now its the time to close it. Again, depending on whom you are writing to your closing sign off may vary on the personal to formal scale. Examples of closing statements or sign-offs include:
      • Sincerely,
      • All the Best,
      • Kind regards,
      • Many Thanks,
      • Take Care,
      • Thank you again,
      • Warmly,
      • Warmest thanks,
      • Beyond grateful,
      • Gratefully,
      • With gratitude,
      • Most Sincerely, 

Enroll in CMTs “FOR DOCTORS FORUM” – a Virtual online community for Doctors — with online/on-demand courses and interactive video training, marketing and growing your healthcare practice with insight from YOUR PEERS, physician leadership and business advice, surveys, checklists, polls and insight on how to thrive as an entrepreneurial Physician — Sign Up Free, Browse Courses — Start Growing Today … FREE!

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Express your gratitude with these thank-you messages and ideas from Hallmark writers.

“If you dismiss the notion of handwritten notes as a ‘nice thing but who has time for that?’ … you get in line behind the rest of the world.” ~Jeff Henderson, Author/Communicator

Remember, in the business of medicine, more specifically, Concierge Medicine, communication is all about solidifying relationships.

No more important is the Patient-Physician relationship and bond between these two individuals is the bond of matrimony between Physician and his/her spouse. If they’re both working in medicine, it’s even more important we implement strategies like these inside of the medical practice environment.

Inc., Magazine’s Elisa Boxer writes … In this digital media age, it’s easy to skip the pen and go straight for the keyboard. But when was the last time you put a text or an email in a keepsake box? There’s just something about a handwritten note that creates a more meaningful connection.

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Don’t Underestimate The Impact (And Business Value) Of A Simple “Thank You” Note

House of Magnets, part of the Graphic Business Solutions family of brands, recently wrote, “Science is increasingly showing that simple exercises in expressing gratitude, like writing notes, are powerful ways to increase a grateful mindset. These actions actually affect the ways the brain works to remember the feelings of gratitude long after the exercise is complete. In addition to the positive effects on the brain, it turns out that written expressions of gratitude are also good for the heart. Like, your actual, physical, beating heart”

Boxer interviewed Frank Blake, former CEO of Home Depot about his Handwritten Note/Gratitude System he created over his seven year stint at Home Depot. Over the course of that tenure, he said he wrote roughly 25,000 personally addressed, handwritten notes to employees and customers. Boxer added in the article Letting people know you’re thinking of them creates a chance for meaningful connection. It also creates a keepsake they can look back on and remember that you took the time to reach out.

So if you’re still searching for your reason to START … I can tell you that this simple step is good for the mind, body and soul. I truly believe that. I’ve seen it, I’ve heard the stories from our Physician spouses and Physicians over the years and it’s time to get started. We’ve seen and heard from staff members who’ve tried this tell their stories about how it filled their soul with gratitude, their mind and spirit with empathy during a difficult time the Doctor and the spouse we’re going through.

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Need more help? We have created a monthly Master Class: How to Create A Patient Gratitude Systemthat will provide you with more simple tips like this you can do to keep your Patients talking about you all year long, year after year.

To help you face your fears, we also put together a monthly “Patient Gratitude System” that you, your staff, your spouse and team can use to keep the conversations and grateful attitude running all year long in a new online, on-demand, take at your own pace, Master Class: How to Create A Patient Gratitude System.

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