Friday, November 21, 2014

Family Medicine: Compassion Equals Vulnerability

"Long term relationships lead to a build-up of particular knowledge about patients, much of it at the tacit level.  Because caring for patients is about attention to detail, this knowledge of particulars is of great value when it comes to care....On the whole, our tendency to think in terms of individual patients more than abstractions is a strength...but can make it difficult for us to feel comfortable in the modern academic milieu, where diagnosis and management are more usually seen in generalizations than particulars.  The risk of living too much in a world of generalizations and abstractions is detachment from the patients experience and a lack of feeling for his suffering."
The ideal for all physicians is an integration of the two kinds of knowledge: an ability to see the universal in the particular.
     The most significant difference between family medicine and most other clinical disciplines is that it transcends the mind/body division that runs through medicine like a geological fault line". ...Ian McWhinney, A Textbook of Family Medicine

I love that last sentence more every time I read it.  But it is also sad that most of the rest of medicine employs, as Dr McWhinney notes:  "a clinical method that excludes attention to the emotions as an essential feature of diagnosis and management.  Another is the neglect in medical education of the emotional development of physicians."

Important to Family Physicians is compassion.  We care enough to hurt.  When we hurt for our patients or our relationship with them, we show our vulnerability as humans.
Compassion = Vulnerability.
When we celebrate with our patients, our enjoyment can equal our caring.
Enjoyment= Caring.

It's fun to transcend the mind/ body fault line and be a Family Physician, vulnerable and caring..

What do you think?

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