Wednesday, May 26, 2010

No Joking

I am on a GYN oncology rotation right now, meeting women facing cancer diagnoses and chemotherapy.  There are many challenging aspects of the field.  I especially find that it difficult to know how to support a patient through such a sentinel life experience, and I am soaking up every good example and role model I can find among the physicians I am working with.

T was telling me that he has worked with a physician who never jokes with his patients.  This physician is an amazingly compassionate, gentle-spirited man and has great relationships with his patients.  The reason he doesn't joke with patients, however, is that he wants them to always be able to instantly trust what he tells them.

This sounded like a good approach to me, but I wonder what others think.  Would this be an approach that you would appreciate in a physician?  Help me become a better doctor! Let me know what you would appreciate.


Just ME said...

Love your blog! About the joking...Its best to be you. So if joking is a part of who you are then yes. Be authentic. But, your mentor does have a valid point.I have had a doctor who had a bit of "whimsy" and I really didnt trust what he said. He was trying too hard I think. As long as those you help see Jesus in you you will be great either way!

Queen B said...

JustMe, love your thoughts. Thanks so much.

Alex said...

Hello! It is so lovely to be following your thoughts these days and get a glimpse of your beautiful family. I am so impressed that you find the time to let us share in your days--as a fellow mother/doctor-in-training, it is especially inspiring!

In reference to the theme of this post, I think that you have to take both your personality and your patient's personality into account when deciding whether to use humor as a means of building your doctor-patient relationship. If humor is one of the natural ways that you express yourself and weather the storms, tragedy and illness included, AND you perceive that your patient has a similar sense and use of humor, then I think it is a GO! However, if you, as the doctor, perceive that your patient does not use and understand humor in that way, the doctor should prioritize tailoring his/her communication to the patient's personality. Similarly, if the use of humor is not innate to the doctor (i.e. requires effort and may not shape his/her interactions seamlessly), then I would think twice about joking with patients, as well. I think that both stars must align, in a sense, and the doctor must be astute enough to gauge that alignment rather early in the patient encounter.

I am going to be a pediatric intern here in NY within 4 short weeks, and so will have to take into account my patient's age and comprehension level (we are, sadly, not born with an understanding of irony!), the family's native language, and the parents' personalities, as well, before pulling out any humor.

Queen B said...

Wonderful! Love the thoughts. Peds is lucky to have you, Alex! Bless you in these weeks as you prep for residency!