Friday, 23 November 2012

Talking to Patients

***DISCLAIMER - i will not be talking about specific patients, their medical histories or personal stories and i will not be talking about colleagues or tutors, in this post***

(apologies for the scary disclaimer, but i've heard a few scary stories about student blogs that have been shut down in the past, so i wanted to get that out there to begin with)

this post is really just going to be a couple of thoughts and reflections i've had, now that i've interacted with a couple of patients as a medical student. i also think it'd be quite interesting to do the same kind of post at the end of med school, just to see how different they are!

my first sentiment is that patients are just normal people! we make them out to be these giant figures in the future, to be approached with caution and talked to slowly and gradually. but really, after a while, you realise that you're just having a chat with them - they stop being 'patients' and start being 'people'. and that's the way it's supposed to be, nobody sick really wants to talk to a poor baby med student quaking in their boots with a quivering voice, as that doesn't inspire confidence in us at all! that being said, we really are only having a chat with them because as much as we'd like it, we really don't know enough to do anything else.

secondly, when you start having to focus on the patient's behaviour and start learning the signs for certain things (like, certain bodily behaviours indicate pain etc), you actually start watching your own behaviour. not exactly for covering up pain and other things (hopefully you should know that even without watching yourself!) but for words that you say more often, or hand movements you make over and over. you just generally become more aware of yourself, which i think is good because the more aware of yourself you are, the more you can refine your techniques and attitudes.

finally, talking to patients who have been through the health care system, or maybe are still in the process of it, and hearing their thoughts and feelings about the procedures they've undergone, makes you suddenly so much more aware of the role doctors and medical students - yes, even the baby ones like myself - play in people's minds, and the types of roles we fill in society. i know the whole idea of the 'Doctor' people used to think of in society is gradually being replaced by a more modern one, but especially in elderly people, they still have certain expectations of us and how we act as members of society. it really is a privileged position to be in.

yours, ever so thoughtfully,

Eliza xxx

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