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  • Real talk

    I currently work in direct patient care and am furthering my education and professional position to become more influential in my work environment. My question relates to the personal aspects of frankly, dealing with people and their bull shit. Certainly through residency and as practicing physicians you have encountered people who are non compliant, difficult, demanding, horribly uninformed or even hostile. How do you personnaly, deal with these types of issues in the healthcare setting without becoming a jayded asshole. I would love to preserve my compassion for patients as that is why I'm in this business, but sometimes I question if it's all worth it and feel that maybe a career change is in order. Thoughts? Haha

  • #2
    Sorry you feel that way. This is a common issue, unfortunately -- I just had one earlier this morning on the inpatient wards.

    These sorts of situations are often why we receive dedicated communication skills training in medical school and residency, in order to be able to manage these situations confidently without becoming defensive and responding inappropriately. I'd say it's important to recognize that there may be specific patient factors driving WHY they're behaving the way they are, and it can be helpful / important to identify these factors (for example, what are the barriers preventing adherence to recommended therapy?). I'd also say having high "emotional intelligence" is critical on the practitioner side -- you must always be in control of your emotions and responses.

    I also try to remember that my role as a physician is not to be a paternalistic figure "in charge" of the patient's behavior, but rather that I'm acting as a consultant that the patient comes to for health recommendations. They are autonomous individuals and, with sufficient information/education, can choose to take my advice or reject it. If I feel that I've done all I can to educate the patient on things like risks, benefits, alternatives, and make clear recommendations, and they choose to do something else, I don't tend to lose sleep at night over it.

    There's a lot more to discuss on this topic, but a few resources on the topic (easily googleable):
    IG / YT


    • #3
      Thank you for the thoughtful response. I like the framing of seeing yourself as a consultant. It seems that perspective could be useful in kind of creating a barrier from the emotional sensations associated with these types of interactions. This was actually really helpful. I will also certainly read through the articles you provided. Thanks for your thoughts on the matter.