Friday, November 26, 2010

How to be a good patientologist

All good doctors are good patientologists. They are empathetic; and understand what the patient's fears and worries are, so that they can help them to manage them.

How does a doctor become a good patientologist ? Unfortunately, these skills are never taught formally in medical college. Some doctors have a great bedside manner, because they have a high EQ ( emotional quotient). Others learn how to improve their patient skills by emulating their teachers who are good clinicians. Others learn " on the job", primarily by listening to their patients . However, teaching doctors these skills still seems to be a hit and miss affair.

I have observed that most doctors become dramatically better at dealing with patients when they fall ill and need medical care themselves. Being a patient ( even for a short while) quickly teaches doctors to see things from a patient's perspective. After all, the best kind of learning is experiential learning - and if patientology is the study of how to be a good patient, the best way to master this skill is by actually being a patient yourself !

An easy best way to implement this would be compulsorily hospitalise all medical students for 2 days ! This will teach them what a patient goes through - and once they have viewed life from the wrong end of the stethoscope, they are likely to be much more caring and careful when dealing with their own patients.
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