Sidenote: Regarding the photo in my previous post where I was chillin’ in my sun hat and sports bra… for the cabin life, it’s totally considered normal. If this combination concerns you, in my defence: I was just about to work out and I’m conscientious about melanoma. (I’m no stranger to sleek and chic outfits at the cabin though, as seen in my other posts as well 😉 )
Since this lovely arctic country is 60 degrees due north the sun stayed out until 10pm (!!) but the sun hat came off for this sunny outdoor work out! Absolutely gorgeous evening 🙂
Keep up the enthusiasm Finland!!
Speaking of health. Onto healthcare:
On a serious note, I have to get something off my chest. After one week in internal med there’s something that’s caught my attention. Senior doctors, nurses, specialists have exemplary bedside manners. Their relationship to patients astounds me. Their ability to make a patient feel comfortable and at ease in an intimidating situation is truly heartwarming.
Younger peeps: we have some work to do.
I’ve been disheartened a few times this week by some of my colleagues. They’re brilliant doctors and students and I know they’re medically treating the patients correctly. But I don’t think correct is the same as well.
The other day I had the exciting privilege to follow an intelligence tournament between some of my colleagues. They argued back and fourth the cause of one patient’s gastrointestinal problem. Whenever they’d come up with a probable culprit, they’d investigate the probability with the patient, asking if he’d been exposed to or eaten something that had caused his condition. This interaction happened several times: Consider possible culprit, go to patient, ask patient further details, discuss amongst themselves, and leave the patient. The patient was just a source of information to them.
After a while the acclaimed head of the department, a senior cardiologist, came by to check on the situation. I followed her as she went to the patient and asked “How are you feeling?” The patient responded, “Gosh, my arm is really sore. I think the infection is getting worse here.” The senior doctor looked at the patient’s charts and noticed he had not been administered any pain relievers. She goes to the junior doctors who were playing Dr.House in the office and asks “Who is caring for the patient?” They all raised their hands saying the brilliant suggestions they’d come up with why this patient has this problem. She interrupted their intelligence auction, “I asked, who is caring for this patient?!” Everyone went quiet. It was then and there that she reminded the doctors of their forgetfulness. She reminded us why we were there.
No one asked the patient how they were feeling.
This poor elderly patient had a gastrointestinal problem, an infection spread to his arm, causing him a great deal of pain, and the only concern was the mysterious GI syndrome.
I do understand my collegues. Sometimes medicine can get so interesting, that you get caught up in trying to find the answer to something, the primary complaint, and you forget entirely the task at hand: caring for the patient.
Being an excellent physician, doing your job, while simultaneously making the patient feel good and comfortable is a skill. A skill I hope someday I, and I know I can speak on behalf of all my fellow students and the junior doctors, can aspire to. But it’s challenging. That’s why “good doctors” have reputations. If it were easy to be medically adept and comforting, genuine, consoling, calming, we would all be good doctors. It’s not unattainable, but we do need to work for it. Even as students, when our main priority is to learn medicine, we can’t get caught up in the science and forget about the patient. Because that’s what we’re there for afterall, isn’t it?
Good beside manners are a golden quality to distinguished doctors. Challenge accepted.