Being a Doctor: The Art of Medicine

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I hope that my artwork can benefit patients and healthcare professionals by providing new, engaging material which both challenges and furthers people's understanding of health, disease and medicine. My final Master's project was recently displayed in the Ruskin Gallery as part of the MA degree show entitled 'Perceptions'. This project started as a quest to understand the experience of frailty, and evolved into a series of sculptures and case studies. After highlighting key issues surrounding frailty and elderly medicine, for example decreasing mobility or shortness of breath, I started breaking, modifying and mending 20th century teacups I picked up in charity shops.

What emerged was a series of different teacups, each one a representation of a person's experience of old age or frailty. The adaptation or mending process represented their personal struggle or resilience dealing with a key frailty issue. Each cup had an accompanying case study illustrating a key frailty issue. The project is available for view at www. Stay signed in for 30 days. Why did you decide on a career in medicine? Why did you decide to study art at the same time as medicine?

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How do you balance your GP training with your art MA? How has being a doctor informed your work as an artist? A warm handshake or a pat on the shoulder can often help calm distraught patients, and touch may have health-enhancing benefits as well.

For example, massage can strengthen immune function 11 and gentle touch has been shown to reduce pain responses to heel stick in premature infants. Of course, reactions to touch may be unpredictable with patients who have been physically abused and associate touch with exploitation or pain, patients who are psychiatrically or developmentally challenged, and patients who are seductive.

You can still use touch with these patients, but proceed with some caution. Also, be culturally sensitive. If you sense that a patient is uncomfortable with touch because of his or her culture or beliefs, be sure to explain what the physical examination will entail before you begin and, in some cases, ask permission to proceed. Medicine is a serious business, and doctors are seriously busy people. But if you're too serious or too busy to recognize humor in your workday, then you and your patients are missing out on something powerful.

Humor can be helpful in establishing rapport, relieving anxiety, communicating messages and caring, enhancing healing, and providing an acceptable outlet for anger and frustration. Humor carries less risk if it is gently self-deprecating, is externally focused not directed at the patient , is not used as the sole means of communication, is grounded in empathy, and is reciprocal.

When using humor, remember that there are three types of people: If you sense the patient lacks a sense of humor, forego this recommendation; humor will only make the patient angry. If you lack a sense of humor, forego this recommendation; you won't be funny.

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For everyone else, be discerning but please give yourself license to laugh a little. As discussed earlier, psychologist Carl Rogers included understanding, or empathy, as an important ingredient in communication. I've put empathy in its own category, however, because I believe it is so vital but so seldom practiced. For example, patients with highly empathetic physicians have been shown to have better glycemic control and LDL levels and cold symptoms that last two fewer days than those of patients whose physicians are less empathetic.

Being empathetic usually involves making an explicit comment concerning the patient's feelings or experience. Empathy can be coupled with expressions of sympathy: I can't imagine how devastating this must be. Making a mental note to be explicitly empathetic is important because medical training and medical culture can sometimes erode empathy.

For example, you may have learned over the years to consider subjective information as suspect or to disconnect from a patient's experience to ensure technical proficiency during an unpleasant or painful procedure. By being explicit in your understanding, you communicate your receptiveness to the patients' concern, which may encourage the sharing of more personal, clinically important information. Although no empirical tests have verified the thesis that using these seven strategies will enhance your practice of the art of medicine, the behaviors recommended are based on empirical data.

They incorporate a patient-centered approach to communicating with patients, which has been shown to improve health outcomes, increase patient satisfaction, and decrease malpractice liability. But using these activities may have an added benefit: In so doing, you may uncover those changes in perspective, connections with patients, and experiences of making a difference in another's life that bring meaning to your work.

The science of medicine has wrought miracles in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease. But the art of medicine remains the medium through which illness and suffering are relieved and becomes paramount when biomedicine runs its course and has little to offer the patient. By practicing the art of the consultation, you just might rediscover and nourish the altruistic motivations that called you to be a healer. Already a member or subscriber? Patient satisfaction with time spent with their physician. Soliciting the patient's agenda: Relationship, communication and efficiency in the medical encounter: J Gen Intern Med.

Transforming the Clinical Method. Sequenced questioning to elicit the patient's perspective on illness: The nature of suffering and the goals of medicine.

The Art of Medicine: Seven Skills That Promote Mastery

N Engl J Med. The necessary and sufficient conditions of therapeutic personality change. A preliminary study of the effects of repeated massage on hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal and immune function in healthy individuals: Her own interests were in the realms of chemistry, engineering and German cinema, of all things. She explored all of these interests in college. Just a few weeks ago, she proudly graduated from the Yale School of Medicine. A liberal arts education allows students to explore their diverse interests in college. I am particularly interested in people like Kim who took time to pursue their other hobbies before medical school.

I found that this enriched their personal worlds and their practice as physicians. Kim took a similar approach to her career development. I had a growing interest in how the medical field alleviates human suffering. My liberal arts education taught me that to tackle a problem, you must do it with broad expertise from multiple angles.

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So I knew I had to be adept in multiple facets of medicine to help patients. In college, I volunteered at a free medical clinic. I studied the humanities, which allowed me to converse with anxious patients about their various interests, and put them ease. And as a chemistry major, I developed a strong foundation in the different medications and lab tests that we used.

GP Life: A doctor who is combining art and medicine | GPonline

But I knew little about the various medical devices that were ubiquitous in our clinic. For one of her classes, she took on the challenge of inventing a surgical device called a laparoscopic morcellator, which would help surgeons remove pieces of tissue from the body through small incisions. She also met with reluctance from some of her mentors who did not think she could invent a medical device without being a doctor herself.

Being a Doctor: The Art of Medicine Being a Doctor: The Art of Medicine
Being a Doctor: The Art of Medicine Being a Doctor: The Art of Medicine
Being a Doctor: The Art of Medicine Being a Doctor: The Art of Medicine
Being a Doctor: The Art of Medicine Being a Doctor: The Art of Medicine
Being a Doctor: The Art of Medicine Being a Doctor: The Art of Medicine

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