Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Recreating the empathetic medical professional: The traditional long path to a medical career

For earlier articles in this series click here.

Setting empathy aside for a moment, let's peruse the journey and  the length of time it traditionally has taken for a physician to hang out his shingle.  

Consider this journey: 4 years of college, then 4 years of Medical School, followed by a year of internship and then a residency that could take 3 years for internal medicine and up to seven years for neurosurgery.

That's 12-16 years so far and still counting....

But training is not yet complete in many subspecialities. Joining or opening up a practice is further delayed by the need for more clinical experience to keep up with changes brought about by advances in technology.

After residency many newly minted physicians follow up with more training in a one or two year fellowship programs;  here they assimilate  more hands-on experience--in fields where technology is leading and pushing the boundaries of  operational techniques at a rapid pace. (particularly in peripheral vascular medicine)

Medical Path: image courtesy of Kaplan Learning Center 

The total commitment now stands at up to 18 years after High School ... which translates into nearly age 40.

Next take a deep breath.

, contemplate the financial burdens encountered along the way; many young doctors emerge the slog carrying a debt burden that  easily totals  hundred of  thousand  dollars.... 

In my next aritcle, I will focus on techniques that have been introduced in medical training to enhance student empathy.

So tune in!


Friday, July 27, 2018

The model of Empathetic Medicine: The Way it Was

There was a time when physicians got it right.

The GP or general practitioner was a true care giver. He was your family doctor who took time to get to know you, listened to all your complaints  physical, psychological and spiritual--real or imagined.

The session usually began with  stethescope pressed to your heart to monitor your heartbeat for irregularites such as murmers. Then, he brought out the sphygmomanometer or blood pressure kit with its cuff applied to the forearm  to measure your blood pressure.

All the while the patient would be sharing his or her complaints: my stomach hurts me,  I have frequent heartburn, I have constipation for over a week, my 17 year-old daughter still in high school ran off with the postman- no goodbyes nothing.

And the doctor would listen patiently and record mental notes. And oftentimes give simple advice to help alleviate the high blood pressure reading he just noted.

The doctor would often climb apartment building stairs visiting the home-bound.. And the word quickly got around and he built a loyal group, who when recovered, lined up at his office for a private consultations.

Now there is skype.

Image above is courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle article: House calls make comeback, fueled by technology and busy patients....