Karen K.
Posted by

To the doctors

Karen K.
Posted by
17 Oct 2015

A note to all doctors. Be kind. Be gentle and listen to what your patients are saying.

I don't know if any doctors are going to read this , but I sure hope they will.  I'm a nurse and have worked very closely with doctors for 20 years. Some are amazing. Some are not.  This post will address both types, and I'm not going to bash anyone.  My goal is to help you be better human beings. Many of you were probably nerds. It's ok.  Nerds grow up to do great things!  But nerds have a stigma of being socially awkward, and I think this hinders some in their bedside manners. Though you treat diseases, these diseases are in living, breathing people.  You need to learn how to relate to people.  Real people who are not doctors, but construction workers, teachers, waiters, taxi drivers, salesmen, and everything else that doesn't require a PhD.  Though I understand our special language, most people don't know medical terminology, but don't confuse this ignorance with stupidity.  Just because most people don't know what lymphadenopathy means, doesn't mean they're stupid.

 Be kind.  Be gentle.  Listen to what your patient is saying.  Look in their eyes.  What do you see?  It's fear.  It's anger.  It's sadness.  It's hope.  It's a weird cacophony of emotions that would make the sanest person go mad.  Cancer is one of the scariest words ever created.  It envisions a skinny, bald, grey patient dying in a hospital bed.  It doesn't matter if you don't think that, what matters is that we think it.  

So, when you run your tests, it's we that are getting poked with needles.  It's we that are receiving the poisonous concoctions you order from the pharmacy.  I don't give a damn what your books say.  If your patient says she's hurting, that she is in pain, give the narcotics.  Fear makes pain worse, and we are scared shitless.  We are living in a world overshadowed by cancer treatment. It clouds everything we do.  It's a demon sitting on our shoulder and won't go the he'll away.  And you are the only one who can kill that demon.  We are dependent upon you like no other.  So be kind.  Be gentle.  Look in our eyes.  And, you know what?  Hugs work both ways.  Don't worry, you know you can't catch cancer.  




Thank you so much for raising what is an important issue. Communication between patients and their doctors is so important on many levels. First and foremost good communication is vital to ensuring that the patient understands what is going on but it's also so important for building up rapport and giving a patient confidence about what's happening and the future.

As you say it's scary enough as it is to try and come to terms with everything that's happening with you and the treatment that you're taking without being confused by doctors who use words and phrases that you don't really understand.


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