Monday, February 19, 2007

Docere - Physician as Teacher

The word "Doctor" has its root in the Latin word "Docere"meaning teacher. Historically doctors have embraced this aspect of their profession. Spending time with patients, explaining the diagnosis, discussing treatment options, and just catching up, would all be part of a regular appointment.
Times certainly have changed. Now a visit to a typical doctor's office consists of a wait lasting longer than the actual appointment, face time with the doctor seldom lasting more than 15 minutes, and unfortunately because of the hurried appointment questions are often left unsaid. The result is a patient population feeling isolated, confused, and scared. The doctors, pressured by insurance quotas, are rushed and restricted. Ultimately, both sides are left longing for something more. Just a little more time, a little more listening, a little more understanding, could go a long way towards patients that are happy and hopeful about their health. And as a doctor, sleep comes easier when there is certainty each patient was given all the opportunity needed to ask questions, to have options explained.
Times have changed. But I have hope. I strive to be a different type of healer. Helping patients, empowering patients is not about me. It is not about my time. It is not about what I think is best. Teaching patients is about sharing knowledge and providing options. Then the doctor moves out of the way to let the healing take place. The healing happens on its own, with and through the patient. I am fortunate to be able to sit back and watch.

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