Oh doctor! My doctor!

How many of us have heard the phrase “he’s not a good doctor”, “the doctor is so rude”, “he has no bedside manners”

In today’s world we demand so much of our doctors. We expect them to be 

  1. brilliant at diagnosis, 
  2. infallible, 
  3. non judgemental
  4. Kind
  5. Able to hold our hand
  6. Incorruptible
  7. In prime of their health (after all who wants to take health advice from an unhealthy person?)
  8. Neat presentation with no tattoos and flashy haircuts.( Because that’s something only teenagers do right?)

Whew! There’s so much we expect from them never mind the fact that an ideal doctor is yet to be found.

But the biggest thing that irritates people is lack of bed side manners. The lay public can never grasp the true intelligence of a doctor. Only those working with them can assess them fully.Hence these people skills are the only deciding factor used in judging the ability of a doctor.

Often what I find is that the good doctors( as said by people) are not intelligent ones while the ones that are universally acknowledged by their colleagues as genius have very bad manners.

People’s perceptions of what an ideal doctor looks like is far fetched from reality. The truth is people are hypocrites.

They all want a doctor like Gregory House but on encountering him in real life, they rather sue him for misconduct.And I agree, no one wants a doctor like him. He is rude , obnoxious and basically everything not in the list.

So why this there such a big communication gap between people’s expectations and physicians?

The obvious answer would be that those skills are considered secondary. And no matter what people say, the main job of a doctor is and is only diagnosis. In fact medical studies comprises an ocean of knowledge. Doctors spend their youth in chasing that knowledge. There is really no time to learn how to deal with people.

It does not help that even mentors and people they work with daily, do not give this topic much importance. They are sometimes encouraged to act a certain way.

Dealing with patients is an art. It needs to be developed and nutured. Unfortunately when there is no one there to guide you, it can be tricky. I myself being a student have committed many blunders ranging from mistaking the patients mother as her grandmother to asking a patient how she got pregnant as opposed to when did she know she was pregnant ( the poor women was quizzically wondering whether she would have to give me a talk about the birds and bees!)

Most people I know, are drowning in  a pile of studies to bother about refining their manners. Learning some bedside manners does not help you score brownie points with the examiner. 

The solution to this problem at this point requires compromise on both sides.

Patients need to lessen their expectations and doctors need to take a little more effort because sometimes medicine just isn’t enough.

This quote perhaps best summarises my long rambling post. As a future doctor I can only try from now on to stop looking at the disease and instead look at the person as a whole.

And as for the readers, please bear with your doctor. He/she too deserves some kindness in their lives just as you expect from him.

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