KINDNESS AND COMPASSION

Yesterday, one of my readers wrote the following: “

“An excellent Dr. is one that makes you feel they are concerned about you and are there to help you. They are easy to talk with and use lay terms so you can understand them. They take the time to listen to your concerns even if your concerns don’t seem like much to them, it could be a huge to the patient. As a patient all these issues are new and frightening to say the least. They’re looking for comfort from their Dr. to help them and put them at ease and be compassionate. Your Dr. may be the only person they have to talk with about these issues. Kindness and compassion go a LONG way…”

Kindness and compassion do, indeed, go a long way and are essential elements of every patient interaction.  Did you ever stop to look at the definition of the word “care”?  Did you know it could be used as a noun or a verb?

NOUN (copied from internet dictionary)

the provision of what is necessary for the health, welfare, maintenance, and protection of someone or something.

“the care of the elderly” · [more]

synonyms:

safe keeping · supervision · custody · charge · protection · keeping · keep · [more]

serious attention or consideration applied to doing something correctly or to avoid damage or risk.

“he planned his departure with great care”

synonyms:

caution · carefulness · wariness · awareness · heedfulness · heed · attention · [more]

VERB

feel concern or interest; attach importance to something.

“they don’t care about human life” · [more]

synonyms:

be concerned · worry (oneself) · trouble oneself · bother · mind · [more]

(care for)

look after and provide for the needs of.

“he has numerous animals to care for”

synonyms:

look after · take care of · tend · attend to · mind · minister to · take charge of · [more]

I think the first quality that you should look for in a doc is “care.”  Over the years, patients who had bad outcomes would often come to me with a question.  “Doc, I think the surgeon screwed up and that’s why I’m still hurting.  I’m thinking about suing him/her.  What do you think?

My answer was always the same.  Let’s assume that the surgeon made a mistake.  Was that mistake made while he/she was caring for you or was he/she careless and messed up?  If the mistake was made while the surgeon was caring for you, then you should not sue.  The surgeon is human after all.  If the mistake was a careless one, meaning the surgeon didn’t care about you, then by all means sue him/her out of practice.  There is no place in medicine for doc who doesn’t care.

Can you teach a student to care?  I don’t think so.  I do believe that you can assess a person’s ability to care for his/her patients and fail those students who are careless when careless means without care.  Ultimately, it is the patient who needs to assess whether his/her doc cares about him/her; and, if the patient doesn’t feel that the doc cares, he/she needs to find another doc.

So, the attributes of a great doc are:

  1. Caring
  2. Compassion
  3. Kindness
  4. Listening
  5. Easy to talk to
  6. Uses plain, everyday language and vocabulary
  7. Comforting
  8. Finds the time necessary to treat his/her patients.

Unfortunately, medical school and residency training is mostly about diagnosis and treatment with very little emphasis on the items listed above.  As a patient, I want an expert trained on items one through seven, as well as being a good diagnostician an up to date on treatment modalities.  Yes, I want it all.

Here are your jokes today:

A sign on a cosmetic surgery clinic says:

“If life gives you lemons, a simple operation can give you melons.”

A couple gets married, and on their wedding night, the wife asks what a penis is. The husband, surprised, pulls his out. She says, “Oh, it’s like a dick but smaller.”

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