• Question: what the most difficult thing about being a doctor

    Asked by sshibu to Philly, Jamie (GP), Gail, Tuxford, Adil on 2 Mar 2018.
    • Photo: Jamie Hynes

      Jamie Hynes answered on 2 Mar 2018:

      Top Question.
      Could it be summed up with the word sacrifice?
      Sometimes with a patient I feel that even though I could do something- a treatment, a referral, a letter, there’s a chance that it might harm them, through side effects, or too many medicines, or emotional strain. We have to answer the question what part of their good health would be sacrificed with this choice, even if on balance it’s probably in their best interests.
      Outside the consulting room the sacrifice is how much work we do- it’s a great comfort to know I can see the family and my boys in the middle of the day and on Wednesdays but each night I work until at least 6:30, often 7:30 so I miss alot of the evenings. We each choose how much of the important stuff we miss out on. At the moment I find the balance ok, but if I felt I was sacrificing too much family time I would reduce my hours, drop a session or one of my roles.
      The times where we get it wrong are hard. It can feel really difficult to resist making an excuse when we see the mistake and it’s really important that when it’s realised that we get past that gut response and discuss it and say how we can put this right, apologising as necessary. We’re all human and we develop our trust and relationships with patients over time, and if we deal with mistakes in the right way we can actually improve, and the doctor-patient relationship can become even stronger as a result.

    • Photo: Gail Allsopp

      Gail Allsopp answered on 2 Mar 2018:

      When someone dies that I have looked after for a long time, that’s hard. It could be a child, a grandma, a brother, it doesn’t matter how old they are. If you’ve known someone and looked after them, treated them when they were unwell, as a GP you become part of their lives. It also means you are part of their deaths. This part never gets easier. It’s as hard today as it was 20 years ago.

    • Photo: Catherine Harrison

      Catherine Harrison answered on 3 Mar 2018:

      Recognising and admitting how much I don’t know! We can never know everything, but as a GP, often we feel like we are expected to have all the answers! It is hard to admit when we need to look something up, or need help, but it is a crucial part of the job. We are always learning!

    • Photo: Philippa Horner

      Philippa Horner answered on 5 Mar 2018:

      My answer may seem predictable but I think I have to say that when a treatment fails and a patient ends up deteriorating or dying, despite your best efforts, that has to be the most challenging thing I’ve ever faced. As a doctor, your instinct is to do everything you can to help your patient get better or at least feel better, even if you can’t cure them. But sometimes, despite your best effort, this isn’t possible. However, there are always people available to support you when faced with this situation and you will never be facing it alone.

    • Photo: Adil Rashid

      Adil Rashid answered on 9 Mar 2018:

      For me, it would have to be accepting that you can’t save everyone. Despite this you can definitely help every patient (no matter how small your actions may be), so don’t let this put you off!
      (I’m a medical student so definitely check out the doctors’ response to this one.)