Liam Farrell: The appraisee strikes back

It is commonly understood that there are two types of appraiser.

Most are permanently malcontent, their disposition suggesting a recent series of disappointing bowel movements. The initial conversation may be polite, yet beneath the veneer of civility lurks only ugly suspicion; handshakes above the table and loaded guns below.

But there is another type, the type of appraiser who really wants to be your friend, and would pass you even if your portfolio was accidentally on purpose stained with insalubrious body fluids. In a Kafkaesque indulgence I shall call the appraiser K.

K peered suspiciously at the stains.

'It’s just coffee,' I said reassuringly.

'Might have spilt some, I was so nervous about this appraisal, you know,' I explained, yawning hugely, my traitorous body making a liar out of me.

'And your reflective learning?' K asked.

I passed over a few tatty sheets.

'Been working on this all year,' I lied blithely again (my years in general practice have made me quite accomplished at dissimulation). 'Trying to comprehend the importance of sympathy; did I say sympathy? I meant empathy, of course, sympathy is second rate stuff; empathy is the cat’s pyjamas.'

'This is very…unusual,' said K, looking over it. 'There is this bit… "Yeah, when you walk in the Valley of Shadow of Death, I’ll be right behind you." What does that mean?'

'It means when my patient is walking though the Valley of Shadow of Death, I’ll be right behind them,' I explained helpfully. 'It’s safer that way; if an alien suddenly bursts out of their chest, I won’t be in the firing line.'

There was a long silence as K struggled with the dissonant genres.

'And this,' K continued, '"To take arms against a sea of patients, And by opposing end them." That sounds curiously familiar to me.

'And "Patients are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get till you open them up".'

I wondered if K was cottoning on to my cunning plan, How to Make Reflective Learning Painless by copying a bunch of one-liners from The Big Book of Quotations. But there remains medicine’s Golden Rule; if you can’t baffle them with brilliance, boggle them with bullshit.

'I was interweaving my literary influences with my own experience,' I said, extemporising i.e. lying.

'Ah, now I understand,' said K.

'Thanks,' I said. 'That’s very empathetic of you.'

  • Dr Farrell is a GP from County Armagh. Follow him on Twitter @drlfarrell

Read more from Liam Farrell

 

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register

Already registered?

Sign in

Follow Us:

Just published

Can GPs believe the Conservatives' promise to deliver 6,000 more GPs?

Can GPs believe the Conservatives' promise to deliver 6,000 more GPs?

In the run-up to the 2015 general election, then health secretary Jeremy Hunt promised...

PCN recruitment scheme 'disadvantages innovative practices', LMCs warn

PCN recruitment scheme 'disadvantages innovative practices', LMCs warn

Innovative GP practices are 'disproportionately disadvantaged' by the funding scheme...

GPs demand power to close lists and drop home visits amid workload crisis

GPs demand power to close lists and drop home visits amid workload crisis

LMCs will set out major concerns over practice workload later this month, highlighting...

GP services disrupted as floods cause havoc

GP services disrupted as floods cause havoc

GPs have been left battling to get into work and deliver services, with some finding...

GMC warning for GPs working for online services

GMC warning for GPs working for online services

A set of principles aimed at helping GPs and other health professionals who practise...

Tories promise 50m more GP appointments a year and 6,000 extra GPs

Tories promise 50m more GP appointments a year and 6,000 extra GPs

The Conservatives have promised an extra 50m GP appointments a year and an extra...