Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Thanks for reminding me.

The other day I was talking about doctor-patient relationships with one of my friends who goes to nursing school, and it helped me remind myself of the image of the doctor I want to become.

Clinical rotations and training have started for her, and right now she's rotating through general hospitals to local clinics and health centers, while also shadowing nurses who are involved in various kinds of health care. And that day, she was complaining that some doctors really only look at the disorders the patients have and not the patients. In other words, these doctors are more focused on diagnosing and treating the disease, not the patient.

Then I thought... do I want to be that kind of doctor?
Well, I don't think so, but not to mean any offense to those doctors.

After all, I believe the doctors who immerse themselves in facing the diseases rather than the patients are the ones who bring new breakthrough technologies and advances in medicine. I also feel that many surgeons belong to that category too, as they're more like artisans or craftsmen, spending a significant portion of their life just to build up skills, sometimes just to treat only a couple of diseases. But that's still necessary, no question.

But the picture of the doctor I have in mind is more like a general practitioner, and probably more general and broader than the term actually means. I'm not attracted to craftsman-type doctors, and this just comes from my tastes, you either like it or not. I want to be able to serve people with various backgrounds. Not sure why, but I guess it has something to do with the fascinating discoveries and thoughts I've had in the past through meeting many people, many of which have helped me shape what I am now. Through examining the medical problem of the patient, I want to interact and understand more about the patient, including one's socio-economic background. If this is done at a certain community-based level, I have a feeling it would enable you to see the strengths of the community, as well as the social issues that are underlying.

Well, in conclusion, whether the doctor focuses on the disease or the patient, I don't think it matters much as long as it makes the patient happier than before. And as long as the patient is happy, what form or type of approach the doctor follows is up to the doctor's personal preference. The doctor should be happy and comfortable too, about not only what he does, but also how he does it. Anyway, there will always be a need for both types of doctors.

I've always been interested in combining the characteristics of general medicine and public health in a clinical manner. You know how you want to face your profession, but there are times when that picture gets blurred, and this recent talk with my friend helped me see it clearly again. Many thanks to her. :-)

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