Friday, October 12, 2012

Why I like teaching patients

All doctors are teachers and in fact, the word doctor itself is derived from the word docere , which means to teach . One of the key responsibilities of a doctor is to teach his patients -  both about his illness ; as well as how to remain healthy !

It breaks my heart when I see how patients are duped and misled. Sadly, given the fact that the healthcare industry has become a profit-making commercial enterprise, there are lots of players who are quite happy to varnish the truth. These include pharmaceutical companies who want to sell their drugs; medical device manufacturers who want to promote their wares; quacks, who want to make money; and hospitals who want to fill their beds.

It’s important that patients have access to trusted reliable sources of information . There’s so much unreliable information out there,  that patients need to learn how to evaluate information critically, and with care .
Since I'm an IVF specialist , my focus is on educating patients about IVF and infertility. Admittedly,  my blog is the personal viewpoint of a practicing opinionated IVF physician , and I'm not claiming that I have all the answers. I believe that my viewpoint can provide valuable insights for infertile couples.

I like teaching and I think I am good at it. I get a lot of positive feedback and encouragement from my patients , who tell me how helpful they find my blog and our websites. Thanks to the ubiquity of the internet, I can now reach out to thousands of patients from all over the world, instead of having to teach just one patient at a time. I like being able to leverage technology , because it allows me to positively impact the lives of many more couples than I would have been able to , had I been restricted to educating patients in real life.

There are a lot of other advantages as well. Thanks to my blog , I'm forced to learn , keep uptodate and sharpen my thinking. Every time I write , I also have to do my homework to make sure I am providing patients with reliable information. There are many controversial issues in IVF, and I have to make sense of fairly complex issues when I write a post. Articulating where I stand and presenting my viewpoint in a public forum , where it can be critiqued by others , helps me to clarify my thought processes. As Sir Francis Bacon said, “ Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing an exact man. “

Teaching patients is good for my professional  reputation. It is also very good for my practice , and infertile patients who want high quality personalised medical care from an expert will come to our clinic from all over the world.

Teaching patients has taught me to be creative. While I prefer learning by reading books, I have found that not many patients like reading , because they find it boring. This is why I have partnered with artists, film makers  and graphic companies to create comic books , e-learning courses and videos to create novel patient educational materials !

Finally, I have found that teaching patients allows me to learn  ( the best way of learning something is to teach someone else ) ! Thanks to my patients , I learn all the time - and I feel that as long as I remain curious and enjoy learning , I will remain young and productive !

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