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Insider thoughts on medical training and empathy

Discussion in 'Other Health News and Research' started by MeSci, May 15, 2015.

  1. MeSci

    MeSci ME/CFS since 1995; activity level 6?

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    I know this isn't strictly news or research, but it is definitely relevant to us and I can't find a more appropriate section to put it in:

     
  2. taniaaust1

    taniaaust1

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    My GP left her last clinic as they were pushing the doctors there to spend less time with their patients and she felt that wasn't fair on us. The whole system is causing the issue with doctors not having time to really show caring and really be good doctors.

    I've kept a CFS specialist who is a complete fail when it comes to patient/doctor interaction. He's made me have to leave the room and go and cry in his toilet before coming back on two occasions. (I think he's got Aspergers so really doesnt know when to shut up and if he disagrees with something you are doing, he'll starts lecturing you). I keep this doctor though as he's about the only one in this state who has something to offer me in treatment stuff. So in my case I put treatment over bad doctor attitude.
     
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  3. Denise

    Denise Senior Member

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    I would argue that fault also lies in the structure of medical school (and training for other healthcare professions). Students are not encouraged to view patients as people but as "X illness".

    I agree though that the time constraints placed by insurance companies* on healthcare professionals severely hampers true connections between patients and their healthcare professionals. These same time constraints also hamper communication and I wonder how many missed diagnoses result from insufficient time with patients.

    * - refers to US based health insurance
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2015
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  4. msf

    msf Senior Member

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    I don't blame doctors for a lack of empathy, I think it's probably quite easy to get jaded in the medical field, but I do blame them (or the medical schools) when they are not competent in the areas they are supposed to be competent in.
     
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  5. msf

    msf Senior Member

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    For instance, GI doctors not knowing anything about things like the FODMAP diet, ID doctors not knowing anything (and moreover having no interest in) certain infectious diseases. I have seen examples of both of these in the NHS, which is paid for by the British taxpayer.
     
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  6. msf

    msf Senior Member

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    If I was this incompetent at my job I would expect to be fired.
     
  7. Never Give Up

    Never Give Up Collecting improvements, until there's a cure.

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    I hope these changes come about. The students who fail to listen and communicate effectively could be shifted to Ph.D. programs and become medical researchers. If they are good at it they would ultimately help patients and make a good living. If they are not good at it, they'd have to figure out another way to pay back those student loans. Maybe if they knew that going in, it would weed out the less desirable applicants.
     
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  8. Research 1st

    Research 1st Severe ME, POTS & MCAS.

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    My experience in the UK, is foreign or working class doctors are slightly more empathic because they tend to come from 'poorer' backgrounds, and thus perhaps have not been as congratulated or spoilt their entire life as an academic superstar and have less of an ego to bruise if things don't go their way during patient communications.

    In contrast, some of the British home grown doctors, especially those older, tend to by quite snooty and arrogant at times. The younger folk, tend to be more laid back due to the cultural shift that is upon us.

    Empathy thus seems to come from not just being able to show and feel 'feelings' for other people, but to be able to connect to the patient on a one to one level, when this happens, the patient can relax, and be more open and the doctor too become less guarded. Both then feel less stressed.

    If one has a very privileged background before entering University to study Medicine (College a breeding ground for elitism in some circles/subjects), then showing empathy is going to be rather tricky to attain once you leave and have to mix with the public.

    Perhaps the most difficult matter, is the fact to be a practicing doctor, especially a hospital doctor, one has to arguably remov feelings in order to get through one day on a ward. A day of telling people they are terminally ill, witness suffering, and seeing and managing deaths - e.g. ''breaking bad news''.

    Coping with that on a daily basis, and still remaining human and showing empathy, is a very hard balancing act and something that must be extremely hard to do, emotionally, whilst remaining empathic, but still professional.

    No wonder so many fail, but when they succeed, the patients will love you for it, as well as respect you for caring, and going the extra mile not because you had to, but because you chose to. I love doctors like that.

    A big hug and pat on the back to the doctors, who really do care about the patients and don't need to attend a course in order how to 'learn' (act) how to. For those who don't know, med students are big on roll paying scenarios (acting). More recently in the UK, the powers that be are recognizing that empathy is actually a 'skill'' in being a doctor.
     
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  9. MeSci

    MeSci ME/CFS since 1995; activity level 6?

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    and an endocrinologist who doesn't know - and refuses to believe - that the only way to have diabetes insipidus is to be born with it, and a GP who claims to be an expert on uveitis insisting that it is always progressive. :rolleyes:

    EDIT - and this endocrinologist is regarded as one of the top ones in the country, publishes research papers and appears in the media.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2015

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