Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Wouldn't it be nice

Sometimes I wish doctors didn't have to solve problems.

The patients I've had the opportunity to speak with are fascinating people. Really, everyone has interesting things beneath the surface, to be discovered if you ask. In a medical interview, the questions scrape the surface, but only barely. We hear about family and social support, difficult aspects of a life, and daily habits -- but only for a few seconds. Only what's especially relevant, and what there's time for.

Sometimes I would prefer to just sit and chat, without having to worry about getting at the medically relevant information. This is particularly true of the geriatric patients we see: a lifetime of stories, and all we hear is "I eat a balanced diet" and "I had a hard time when my sister died last year." I want to hear about the family, what they did for fun when they were kids in the 1920s and 30s, and which sister he was closest to.

Maybe this means I should consider psychiatry, if what I like about medicine is the sitting and chatting. Or maybe that means I have a naive view of what psychiatry is -- I'm sure the psychiatrists have their own vital data that they need to gather through leading questions. But at least there's more time to sit and talk.


Che said...

Amen. Sometimes I think we're so amazingly lucky that people trust us with their stories, and all we're "supposed" to do with them is harvest the medically important information.

Come to Dr. Hartley's group class thing next time; you'd like it.

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