Choose your doctor: Astute diagnostician or empathic practitioner?

Good piece on the balance between technical and ‘people’ knowledge. Quote:

Doctoring is tricky business, and we don’t know the specific ingredients and proportions that constitute a great physician. There is no recipe. It’s an amorphous mixture of humanity, humility, medical knowledge, clinical experience, excellent communication skills, compassion and personal warmth. And, of course, we’re supposed to run on time.

via Choose your doctor: Astute diagnostician or empathic practitioner?.


2 thoughts on “Choose your doctor: Astute diagnostician or empathic practitioner?

  1. Andrew:

    An empatheric doctor and a terrific clinicain are not mutually exclusive. ALbeit rare, but not exclusive. Many of the NIH oncologists are clinicains and researchers first. Thier patient skills and empathy are as developed as Louis XIV’s knowledge of a husband’s duties. Medical schools are now realsing that empathy training is sorely needed in medical schools. Georgetown has recently hired a new professor at thier school for training medical students in patient empathy.

    That said, communication and support from the medical providers during treatment can be spotty, scary, and ruthless. It is difficult to find a professional ombudsman to liaise, especially on dificult cases that require cross specialy treatment and communication.


    • Bill,

      All too true. Most of my doctors combine both, which is particularly important as for better or worse, we have a long-term relationship. Another interesting thing that Georgetown does is require students to write a reflection piece on being a doctor and caring – some of these are quite good.

      Your last point is all too true – it is the challenge common to many organizations to provide single points of care and coordination where one’s needs cross over several teams or specialities.

      Thanks for commenting.


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