The Doctor Becomes The Patient: Lessons Learned From Wearing A Gown

Physicians are terrible patients. That fact is one of the few absolutes in medicine. I can remember developing an acute appendicitis as a medical student. I remember the fear, the uncertainty and the discomfort. I can remember wanting someone who was in charge to spend a little time in my room explaining things to me. I can remember the embarrassment I felt when a group of 6 student nurses paraded into my room with a senior staff nurse in order to learn how to put in a foley catheter. As physicians, we are used to being the person in control in the healthcare setting. When the doctor becomes the patient, all perceived control is surrendered. No longer do we wear the “magic white coat” and wave healing hands over patients. Our daily intake and output is recorded. We are shipped all over the hospital for tests in unflattering, often risque attire. Once the transition to patient is made, there is no going back. Nothing ever seems the same.

One of the most well published experts in this area is Columbia University psychiatrist Dr Robert Kitzman. In a 2008 New York Times article, Dr Kitzman provides insight and discusses the implications of [...] continue the story

What can medical students learn from patient art?

Robert Pope, Dalhousie medical school’s first artist in residence, painted his journey with cancer. His work was displayed for medical students so that they could learn from what he went through and is now on exhibition for the public.

When It Doesn’t Make Sense

May 16, 2012

As doctors in training, we learn to think in patterns of symptoms and can often use “clinical judgement” to fit a patient’s presenting symptoms into a diagnosis. This generally works well, until we are presented with an unfamiliar pattern. For example, in the early 80’s I saw a 60 year old shoe salesman with fatigue and a low grade fever. He had general malaise and some muscle weakness. His exam and initial blood work was unrevealing except he was mildly anemic and his sed rate was elevated. A search for cancer and infection unrevealing. So my next thought was polymyalgia rheumatica, an autoimmune illness associated with inflammation of medium sized arteries. I sent him to a surgeon for a temporal artery biopsy which was negative.

About this time he started to get a cough and the chest X-Ray showed a hazy pattern of change. I knew the symptoms yet had not yet encountered HIV. He was one of the first cases in our State, but likely we had all missed the boat with similar patients. Our pattern thinking generally works clinically, but it isn’t a very good way to ferret out a new or unexpected disease. I never thought [...] continue the story

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