They say that the best doctors are teachers. Yes, as a doctor, you have your patients’ best interests at heart and you want to help them be well, but at the same time, you should also teach them. It is your responsibility to teach them about their bodies, about illnesses and treatment options, about their environment, and about how to take care of themselves. The word ‘doctor’ is derived from the Latin word docere, which means ‘to teach’. In fact, teaching occurs in several stages throughout your medical career – from learning in class to training in a clinical setting. “Physicians teach everywhere and by every means. From small seminars to great lectures, from mentoring one to guiding many, from articles to books, in the hospital, clinic or office and most recently from single emails to blast blogs and websites that span the Internet. Physicians are trained and nurtured by this process and in turn train and nurture those that follow” wrote James C. Salwitz, oncologist and clinical professor at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
Yet, teaching patients is just as important and as you continue to maximize your efforts in healthcare, this will foster a lot of respect in your doctor-patient relationships. “In the last ten years medicine has made fantastic advances. Diseases that were a death sentence, such as some cancers, are treated and people have an excellent quality of life. When disease does not respond, good care becomes ever more essential to improve quality of life. The next generation of doctors need to know how to manage difficult symptoms, how to listen and support people who are frightened and in distress, and be able to provide personalised care round the clock” said Baroness Ilora Gillian Finlay, a Welsh doctor and professor of palliative medicine.
Doctors, much like teachers, influence the lives of individuals on a daily basis. In the midst of your responsibilities, you must follow a professional code of ethics and serve as a strong role model for the community. Moreover, you must continuously work with patients, work with colleagues, ensure patient safety, maintain ethical behavior in professional practice, as well as interact with stakeholders in healthcare.
- Working with patients – As a Ascot practice's doctors in Nundah, your job is to provide patients with quality care. That is, you must provide equal care to all patients and interact with them so as to cover preventive care services, including wellness visits, breast examinations, mammograms, high blood pressure and cholesterol tests, and more. The most important thing that you can do for your patients is to teach them how to take care of themselves and stay healthy.
- Working with colleagues – In medical practices or hospitals, doctors must collaborate with administrators, fellow doctors, and other staff members in order to reach common goals and improve doctor contentment. Moreover, by working as a team, you have the chance to ensure positive patient experiences and patient satisfaction.
- Ensuring patient safety – In addition to your role in teaching patients, you also have a responsibility to keep your patients safe from medical errors, accidents, injuries, and infections. Doctors must abide by practice / hospital rules and regulations at all times and make patient safety a number one priority.
- Maintaining ethical behavior in professional practice – Being a healthcare professional, you must maintain ethical behavior in professional practice by representing yourself and your practice in an accurate light. That is, you must have the proper certifications, licenses, and other qualifications for your particular position. In addition to qualifications, you must also practice ethical behavior when it comes to assessing patients’ health and medical histories, providing diagnoses, as well as conducting treatment plans.
- Interacting with stakeholders in healthcare – A stakeholder is defined as an individual who is involved in or affected by a course of action. Doctors have a great responsibility to interact with stakeholders in healthcare, which include medical professionals and other healthcare providers, professional licensing organizations, medical schools and medical students, labor unions, as well as patients.
All doctors have a professional obligation to continue medical education and training, such as through teaching medical students, other healthcare professionals, and patients. At some point in your career, you may become a supervisor to trainee; however, at all times, you need to provide quality care to your patients. The general obligations that doctors, such as you, need to take on include the following:
- You need to continuously develop your skills and knowledge;
- You have a responsibility to maintain professionalism within the medical field;
- You need to use proper learning and teaching resources during training;
- You need to be up-to-date with the latest medical news, events, and tools;
- You need to serve as an example to those around you, including your patients and the community;
The general concept of doctor leadership starts in medical school. There, you are exposed to several different teaching approaches: teamwork, lecture teaching, problem-based learning, and more. You are evaluated on your knowledge and understanding of these approaches through exams, acquired skills, and workplace assessments. You also gain feedback from teachers, other students and through self-reflection. Therefore, medical school continues to remain the most reliable and effective approach to learning and teaching before fully entering the world of medicine. Its implications can be seen later on within healthcare institutions.
Being a good doctor, similarly to that of being a good educator, requires that you continuously provide patients with information that is in their best interest, including the practice of preventive medicine. Preventive medicine is implemented by all doctors in order to keep patients healthy. Its goal is to promote and maintain well-being, all the while preventing disease, disability, and death. Moreover, it is a well-known fact that patients seek care from doctors who lead by example. For instance, if you are a doctor who eats healthy foods and maintains a healthy weight, then patients are more likely to listen to your advice and recommendations on proper nutrition. It is no longer just about being a medical educator but rather also serving as a role model. Just as patients look up to you, so do medical students, fellow colleagues, and the community. “The best doctors remember that their calling is not only to teach practitioners of the health sciences; it is their duty to teach their patients. Every patient can identify physicians whom have the patience and skill to explain the complex in clear language, allowing the patient to make better decisions and have better control of life. Knowledge is to fear, as water is to fire or as oil spread on a turbulent sea, brings calm. Patients are the greatest benefactors of a deep educational culture connecting the centuries and ending at individual bedsides” stated Dr. Salwitz.
Following your lead, you present the opportunity for others to learn from your knowledge and expertise, as well as to make a difference. Though you are not responsible for the pressures of society, lack of social support, and addiction; you can help impact the health of today’s general population. After all, a desire to help other individuals, known is doctoring, is also a form of teaching. “Patients increasingly want to be active participants in their care and make informed health-related decisions. However, there is a lot of misinformation out there, and patients don’t always know where to look or what sources to trust.Studies show that health care providers are the most trusted information source for patients. Effective education from providers and increased patient involvement in health care decisions have been associated with better health outcomes, reduced anxiety, fewer problems after surgery, and improved satisfaction with care” wrote Roheen Raithatha, otolaryngologist. It is in every individual’s best interest, including your own, that doctors teach patients whenever possible. Once you are able to unite your role of a doctor with that of a medical educator, you can position yourself as a role model within today’s health-conscious society.