But I think the best training for a doctor is to be a patient - particularly a patient of the disease or ailment they treat. This would provide so much more understanding for them.
Here is the story of a British breast cancer surgeon who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 and finally returned to work in 2017. She never expected to face this diagnosis. I don't anyone ever does.
"Doctors face particular challenges when they become patients—challenges that they are rarely prepared for. It is hard to relinquish control and allow others to dictate the treatments that you yourself are used to doling out. It is crushing to know your own prognosis in the starkest terms—a 65 percent chance of surviving for 10 years, in O’Riordan’s case. It is awkward to see your own former patients while you’re being treated: To strike up a chat would break confidentiality."
I would like to disagree here. I don't think it would be awkward to see your own patients while in treatment. I would not expect my doctor to treat me as a patient if I run into them in the store or something. I just say hello as I would with any other person.
"And it is difficult to be cut off from the same supportive forums and networks that other patients use to share experiences and support; if you let slip that you’re a doctor, you become a source of information, rather than a comrade in illness."
I have had doctors and nurses in my support groups. No one in the support group expected them to be any more 'up' on new treatments or provide constant medical advice because that is not what they are there for. They have occasionally filled in on a specific question or answered a question along the lines of 'should I go to the ER for this'. But that's it. In a support group setting, we can't anyone there to provide medical advice. First because they are there for support and second because they have no knowledge of our medical records.
"How much, for example, should she share with her own patients? O’Riordan had blogged regularly about her cancer. She had even done a TEDx talk. But she practices medicine under her maiden name, so few people would make the connection between her online persona and her professional one. Ultimately, she decided to say nothing at first, revealing her experiences only to patients who have completed their treatments and are dealing with the side effects. It helps them, she says, to know that their doctor fully understands how hard it is to live with breast cancer. “You don’t want to compare yourself to other people,” she says. “But when they’re going through that journey, it helps to know that the doctor has, too.”"
I absolutely think she should have felt she could share her diagnosis if she wanted to her patients with the same diagnosis. My best therapist ever had had breast cancer ten or fifteen years before she started seeing me. Because she opened up about this, while we didn't discuss it often, I felt much more comfortable because she 'got me' through her own diagnosis.
I would be very happy if I knew more about some of my doctors. No, I don't want to know everything about them. But if I knew they had been through what I was being treated for it would greatly increase my comfort level. (Why is doctor patient confidentiality only one way? That's a question for another
Think about it - if you knew your gall bladder surgeon had had the same surgery as he was treating you. Wouldn't your comfort level with him go up a few notches? He survived, so can you.
Finally, I would like to state that I do not think that this surgeon was ready to return to work. If her brain was compromised by chemotherapy to the point she could not remember instrument names, I would not want her operating on me. Part of healing after cancer, or other ailments, is getting back to the same physical and mental states.
My opinion is that just because she is a doctor it doesn't mean she should give herself clearance to go back to work. She was not able to work independently and needed to lean on her support staff to that extent.
In addition I will go read her blog to learn more about her. She has completed a school of hard knocks.