An essential part of clinically excellent care is empathy with our patients—a trait that can be cultivated by visualizing ourselves as an extension of our patient’s family helping them get through a rough patch in life.
Passion in the Medical Profession | September 24, 2018 | 1 min read
By Satish Shanbhag, MBBS, MPH, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Hard work is a given, but we must also have the commitment to go beyond expectations and aim for excellence in everything we do. I believe strongly in giving my 100% to EVERY patient I have the privilege to take care of. Each patient walks in with his or her own anxieties and perception about their disease, and solving each of their unique problems, however difficult it may seem, puts us in the unique position of being healers, coaches, counselors, and sometimes consolers.
As a hemato-oncologist, I’m in a field where giving bad news happens almost on a daily basis, but it’s important that this doesn’t become an “everyday affair.” Every patient and family is special, and we cater to different emotional and clinical needs uniquely. Finding the right balance of pursuing therapy when reasonable, while knowing when to change track to a palliative approach can be a challenge in my field. I’ve learned through experience that doctors work better as guides in assisting our patients along the path of their choice.
Patients often ask me, “What would you do if I were your mother or father?”
My answer invariably is, “I treat every patient like I would my mother or father.”
An essential part of quality care is empathy with our patients—a trait that can be modeled effectively by visualizing a doctor as an extension of a patient’s family helping his / her father get through a rough patch in life. Acceptance, compassion, and understanding of how a patient perceives their disease are essential qualities for a healer aiming to gain the trust of the sick.
So, what makes a great clinician? Ever since the mantra, “Available, Affable, and Able,” was introduced to me I’ve strived to be all that and more to my patients. Empathy is the best way to achieve the first two, while the last requires hard work, self-study, and a constant desire to improve oneself—searching for answers to difficult questions others may not have pondered. I constantly strive to live up to this motto.