Monday, 10 October 2011

The Listener

Some years ago there was an excellent magazine called The Listener. For a while I read it regularly and enjoyed the articles reflecting on the previous week's radio as well as book reviews and previews of upcoming programmes.

In some ways I think The Listener would be a good epithet for a family doctor. Most days I think that being a doctor is challenging and at times, even difficult. But occasionally the simplicity of the practice of medicine strikes me. In last week's BMJ the President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Sue Bailey, was asked what characteristics and skills make a good psychiatrist. Echoing Tony Blair and his emphasis on education, she responded, 'Listening, listening, listening'.

Just recently two patients have come to discuss with me the content of letters they had received detailing a recent consultation with a hospital doctor and which had been addressed to me. Both were horrified by the content which contained frank inaccuracies. 'I didn't say that, where did he get that idea from, wasn't he listening?' Both patients were fed up and not a little angry by the apparent failure to listen well.

I still struggle to remember so much of the detail of anatomy and physiology and pharmacology, at times it seems beyond my waning intellectual powers. But I can still be a good listener.
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