The Family and Friends Test
How do the life circumstances of laboratory medical professionals affect their perception of patients?
I recently read a reflection by a Polish pathologist on Instagram. Roughly translated, she asked, “Does being a doctor make me a different kind of mother to my children… or am I a different kind of doctor now that I am a mother?” She noted that being a doctor made her more aware of the diseases her children might encounter – but that being a mother made her more aware of the people behind each diagnosis. “Now, looking at each patient’s details, I wonder if there is a daughter or granddaughter,” she wrote. “Or maybe it is a lonely father of two, or a newlywed husband.”
Although not every practitioner is a parent, there are few who have no ties to family and friends at all – which is why so many pathologists and laboratory medicine professionals emphasize the need to remember that behind each sample is a person with a life and loved ones. For this mother, having children prompted her to think more deeply about each sample that came under her microscope. For others, facing a health scare with a loved one may trigger a more profound connection. Still others strive to forge a stronger link by offering contact details, conducting ward visits, or even inviting patients into the laboratory to learn more about their diagnosis.
In the past, we’ve had pathologists speak about the benefits of patient-centered care (1). We’ve also had patients write to us about their desire to interact with their pathologists (2). And laboratory medical professionals like the Instagrammer above take those ideas and run with them – because, after all, wouldn’t we want our friends and family to receive that same level of concern from the laboratorians involved in their care?
How do you and your colleagues approach patient-centered care? And do you feel that your own life circumstances have affected the way you view – and treat – your patients?
While obtaining degrees in biology from the University of Alberta and biochemistry from Penn State College of Medicine, I worked as a freelance science and medical writer. I was able to hone my skills in research, presentation and scientific writing by assembling grants and journal articles, speaking at international conferences, and consulting on topics ranging from medical education to comic book science. As much as I’ve enjoyed designing new bacteria and plausible superheroes, though, I’m more pleased than ever to be at Texere, using my writing and editing skills to create great content for a professional audience.