What Constitutes a Grateful Patient?


A grateful patient recognizes all the hard work that goes into their treatment and care, explained former NFL player Rolf Benirschke.

Grateful patients recognize that they are the beneficiaries of the work of many other people, from researchers, to doctors, and nurses, explained Rolf Benirschke, a former National Football League (NFL) player.

Benirschke established the Grateful Patient Project, as well as National Grateful Patient Day, which occurs every year on September 7.


A grateful patient, to me, is someone who recognizes that they are the beneficiary of the work done by a lot of other people, most of whom they will never meet, they will never understand. They don't appreciate how much innovation, research, time, energy, commitment, goes into creating a drug. The cost. The years of back-breaking bench science: 10, 12, 15 years, oftentimes with never a drug actually making it to market. But each failure moving science along.

They don't understand the commitment that goes into getting a drug through the phase III trials; putting trials together. They don't understand the training that the doctors went through [who] treat us, the nurses [who] care for us. There's a whole ecosystem of people whose shoulders we stand on as patients and get to receive the drug that cures us, [or] extends our life, changes our lifestyle.

A grateful patient stops and recognizes that.

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