Monday, 21 March 2011

What are ya?

I guess many of us define ourselves by the jobs we do.  I'm not sure that's the healthiest way to view self esteem but since much of our lives are spent in the workplace it's understandable.

I prefer to call myself a family doctor rather than the more common general practitioner. Perhaps I've just been fortunate, but I've worked in the same surgery for 29 years and have grown up alongside many of my patients. I think it brings many advantages.

Just today I've had conversations with three different patients who are in  profound and distressing times of their lives. I knew their backgrounds and their extended family. I count it a privilege that they confide in me. Whether it was explaining a sadly very poor prognosis to a man with his wife present, listening to a story of family tragedy or helping a patient appreciate the challenge of taking on responsibility for a young family member whose parents are no longer capable, I couldn't help but reflect that indeed no man is an island. For most patients their problems do not exist in isolation.

This is a potential downfall of current evidenced based practice which although making judgements about patients based upon large populations, may not take into account the unique individual features of the patient,  nor the particular family and relationship dynamics which are at work.

Many GPs today move around practices and do not stay put. I believe they are missing out on a valuable aspect of the work. It may be anachronistic and sadly family breakdown is all too common, but I'll stick with the title of family doctor.

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