As I reflect on the past week at work I am really grateful that some patients have said thank you. I always aim to be accurate in my diagnoses, arrange appropriate investigations and be wise in my prescribing. Interestingly none of these things prompted thanks. Maybe it is taken for granted that I will practice good clinical medicine!
Rather I have been thanked for being kind, for taking time to listen, for still seeing a patient who arrived very late in tears, for being honest and for taking a person’s concerns seriously.
I was even thanked for having beanie babies and pictures in my room which made someone smile!
Not all my weeks are like this. Sometimes I am not thanked at all. However it reminded me that medicine isn’t just about knowledge, even though we need that.
At medical school we were taught about the art of medicine as well as the science, but somehow the art bit gets lost. We forget that a kind word, a smile, the eye contact all matter more than we think. For some it is those things that bring healing.
I decided to take a liberty and re-write a well -known Bible passage about love to see how it would read for me as a doctor. This is from 1 Corinthians 13. “If I speak medical information and health advice but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have a gift of working out the problem, arranging tests to find the clear diagnosis and can spout off every medical treatment available but have not love, I am nothing. If I work all hours, read all books and attend all conferences but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude,
It is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
I hope that in the next week I can remember this and as well as doing the scientific bit well, I will also incorporate the art and the love.
I really think it can make a huge difference.