Can doctors have personalities?
“When I teach medical students who rotate with me at my clinic, I ask them to write about the single most negative and single most positive emotional experiences they have had in their 3 to 4 years of training thus far. Commonly, I see fear as a negative emotion and pride in self-worth as the positive. When we break it down, their fear often stems from not knowing if they did a good enough job working up a tough case. The students talk about facts, etiologies, treatment plans, and what could have been done better clinically. Interestingly, their positive emotion of self-worth is often described as the patient thanking them or even hugging them after they shared stories and bonded that they both like wake surfing, went to the same Metallica concert, exchanged jokes or photos of their same breed of dog or that the patient reminded them of their grandparent and they just sat and talked about their families. After describing the case, students usually do not mention disease, workup, or treatment with me this time. In fact, very little medical terminology is used when I ask why this experience was so positive, and the words I do hear are usually centered on how they felt bonded with the patient after learning something they have in common. What beauty lies in this space when doctor and patient connect.”
Erika Visser Aragona is a family physician.
She shares her story and discusses her KevinMD article, “Can doctors have personalities?” (https://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2021/08/can-doctors-have-personalities.html)