Beyond Science, Medicine Is an Art As Well
Most of the people see doctors and surgeons as experts in the science of medicine. However, being skilled in the art of medicine is equally indispensable. Underlying this art is the caring and therapeutic relationships physicians build with their patients. Good communication between doctors and patients results in a better comprehension of patient issues and a treatment plan.
According to Dr. Lynn Wilson, a family physician at Women’s College Hospital, she has been there for patients during their sensitive life moments such as births, illnesses, and deaths, as well as ordinary moments such as when a person has a concern and wants some reassurance or desire to know the best for their health. The way she managed to build and strengthen such meaningful relationships with her patients over the practice years is through mutually good conversation.
Dr. Lynn says, when she sees patients, she tries to understand their underlying concerns and how she can deliver reassurance. And reassurance doesn’t necessarily always result from ordering a test or treatment. In fact, many times a test or treatment may not be required and could even negatively affect a patient. Moreover, she encourages patients to see their physician for an annual health visit to talk about their questions and concerns. Furthermore, effective communication also makes patients and their family members feel satisfied and happier with the treatment they received.
A study conducted by a group of Ottawa researchers discovered that whenever doctors and their patients used decision aids to help encourage conversations in cases of clinical uncertainty, patients feel reduced uncertainty and less conflict, and improved confidence regarding difficult medical choices.
According to another survey conducted in participation with family doctors across the United States regarding barriers to reducing unnecessary treatment in their professional practices, they pointed to a limitation of time they had to have a good conversation during the clinical encounter. However, patients have a right to raise questions about important and unimportant care options that can lead to a healthy discussion. Therefore, whenever you are offered a treatment or test, never hesitate to ask following questions:
- Is this test, procedure or treatment really needed?
- What are the negative effects?
- Are there alternative simpler, safer options available?
- What if I do nothing?
Asking above questions is a good way to begin that is all about the art of medicine. A healthy conversation with your physician shouldn’t necessarily take a long span of time. Health providers and patients want to make the best use of their precious moments in a clinical encounter.
In short, if you are a medical expert or aim to be the one, better your conversation with your patients. And if you are a patient, do not hesitate to raise your questions to avoid an inner conflict, and to be clear and confident about the treatment being taken. Mutually good conversation is essential for a safe medical procedure which is undoubtedly an art that you can improve with regular practice.