Archive for tag: ethics

Doctors and Patients

What's the appropriate relationship for doctors to have with patients? How do you know when it's OK to accept a gift, meet for a coffee, or call a patient at home? What's the difference between being empathetic towards a patient's horrific home life and being taken advantage of by a patient who thinks you are her new best friend? 


In a recent "Doctor and Patient Relationship" class with the talented Dr. Dennis Delfosse, we explored the all-too-common gap between what patients might be experiencing in life compared to what we assume their lives are like. The point of the discussion was that everyone is dealing with something. Maybe you've heard the saying "Everyone is fighting a battle that you know nothing about," and its usual ending, " be kind." But are you?

Do you, interns of acupuncture and oriental medicine, treat your patients as important individuals, worthy of your time and energy? Have you ever groaned when you discovered that you suddenly have an "add-on" patient halfway through your shift? Do you dread treating that "difficult" patient who keeps scheduling with you, stealing your qi? Are you counting the minutes until your shift in clinic is over for the day?

Much like the general population of American doctors (of whom only 54% would choose medicine as their career if they could do it all over), practitioners of acupuncture and oriental medicine might find themselves unfulfilled, unchallenged, or unhappy at work from time to time. How can we refocus, reframe, and recharge ourselves and our passion for helping patients find balance and wellness? We must revisit our goals from time to time, remembering why we chose our respective field in the first place, realizing that our next step might be in a slightly different direction than we originally planned. It's OK to change treatment strategies, to move towards a different specialization, or to study under a different clinician this trimester.

2014-01-23_wheelOne way to change your personal energy dial-back to "Positive" is to remember that the patients, their oftentimes unfortunate circumstances and their health needs, are the reasons that we're here. They aren't in the way, they aren't the reason we can't finish our paperwork, and they aren't the problem. Helping them is the whole picture. The key is figuring out how to strike the perfect--or at least, a workable--balance with each individual patient to optimize their satisfaction and yours.

Do you want to make your patients happy? Start by being happy yourself!



Physician Frustration Grows, Income Falls - But a Ray of Hope. Medscape. Apr 24, 2012. Retrieved 1/18/14 at