It was when I said, “I was reading something on the Internet about. . .” that my doctor rolled his eyes. He assured me that it wouldn’t help to rely on Internet resources. He had years of experience with diagnosing and treating my condition. Having a lot of information wouldn’t help me, he continued, because what was important was his ability to analyze all the data (he pointed to his head and winked) and then make the appropriate decisions. He might as well have said to not worry my pretty little head about my health. I was stunned.

Are doctors and teachers out of touch?

I needed to be a partner in understanding my health and he was telling me not to bother. Had we had this conversation 10 years ago, even 5 years ago, it might have been more palatable. But with today’s Web 2.0 Internet, physicians have to understand that patients can watch a video interview with an expert from the Cleveland Clinic and post questions she will answer offline. They can join multiple support groups where people with similar health issues can compare care, discuss medications and discover alternative treatments. And we have access to the latest research written for the lay person. My doctor no longer controls information. What he apparently doesn’t understand is that this genie is out of the bottle. Embrace a patient as a partner or be left behind.

This post could have been written by a 16-year-old sophomore and titled “Why My Teacher Doesn’t Understand Me.”  With today’s Web 2.0 Internet, teachers have to understand that students can watch a video interview with an expert in biology and post questions she will answer offline. They can join social networks where students with similar assignments can compare notes, discuss answers and discover alternative solutions. And they have access to the latest research written for students. Their teacher no longer controls information. What teachers might not understand is that this genie is out of the bottle. Embrace a student as a partner in learning or be left behind.