I know I've written about this before but a recent experience has confirmed to me just how important the consultation is-that which is at the heart of the practice of medicine.
I had to consult with a doctor myself last week. She was excellent. But in what way?
1. She expressed unhurried interest (how hard this is in an under-doctored NHS where all GPs have far too many patients.
2. She allowed me to tell my story without impatient and unnecessary interruptions.
3. She picked up on my personality and adapted accordingly. I enjoy humour and realise this sometimes is fuelled by nervousness. She went a certain way in responding to my humour. Neither ignoring nor going along with it too much. That is I think she got the balance right.
4. She was both professional and friendly at one and the same time.
5. I left with a feeling of confidence in her.
How vital human interaction is. This is in contrast to the modern trend of the so called 'millennials' who apparently want rapid service rather than the necessary slowing down that human contact requires. The manageress of my local excellent coffee shop tells me that hotels in Japan are experimenting with no staff at all in their hotels since all check in is automated and any queries are dealt with by FAQs online (presumably poorly paid immigrants are still changing the sheets). Freshly prepared meals and coffee brewing is also scorned in favour of speed. And then there is the crazy idea of self diagnosis and treatment on Google. Nah, people need people.
In my last few weeks in practice I want to remind myself that every interaction with the patient (the consultation) is important to them and that my sensitive human responsiveness is a necessary part of helping the patients on their journey whether facing a relatively minor acute illness or something more long term.
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