In the busy hospital environment, developing a relationship with a patient as opposed to developing a fascination with his/her symptoms is a difficult balance to strike. I have noticed such a contrast when I have shadowed hospital doctors and when I have shadowed GPs.
I guess a big part of why many of us choose to stay in this vocation is because ultimately, we like to fix things, to help make things better, to help make someone feel better. Yet a huge frustration is that sometimes we can’t fix things, sometimes or make things better and sometimes we can’t make someone feel better. Unfortunately, this is just life. However, within the medical profession, I believe GPs are in a unique position to be there at the beginning of the story; when a patient initially presents with a complaint.
The art of medicine
GPs are there, with no advanced diagnostic tools, invited into the mind of a patient. They are there when, whatever problem the patient is presenting with, if understood and diagnosed early, can help cement the gap between ‘broke and fix’, between ‘feeling bad and feeling good.’ It is, if you like, where the art of medicine can occur.
As GPs are working in practices that have important working relationships with other community services such as social services, mental health networks, addiction centres and so forth. They can help patients socially, physically and mentally and thus enable a greater package of care. A package of care which is greatly needed in many of today’s inner city populations.
Career satisfaction is something many of us pine for and the medical profession offers many different routes in order to seek just that. I think, for me, general practice is one such a route. It combines spectrums of not only science, but also grants room for exploring the human aspect of patient care.
My attitude towards becoming a GP has been strengthened recently, primarily due to my current GP placement. Through shadowing the doctor, I have come to realise that the influence and impact a GP can have on the way a patient understands manages their symptoms. When done correctly this is a beautiful thing to witness. In an enclosed space with just the patient and doctor, good rapport building skills and a genuine interest in what the patient is saying means the opportunity to help increases tenfold.
Health, both physical and mental, are our most prized possessions. When they are compromised, we are in a vulnerable position. A good GP can be a treasured source of professional comfort and help in such times of need. It would bring a great sense of achievement and personal happiness to be able to be that good GP in a person’s life.
- Marjan Jamal is a 3rd year medical student at the University of Manchester