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Do Doctors Always Know Best?

Jun 27, 2022

The other day, while I was brisk walking through the hallway in the hospital, I overheard a conversation between a doctor and a family member. The doctor said, “I’m his doctor and I know what’s best for him…”

I did not know what the context behind that conversation, but that got me thinking. Do we always know what is best for the patient?

As physicians, we went through years of schooling and post graduate training before becoming a full-fletched attending physician. This is on average 10 more years of education after college. Many lives are dependent on our expertise and our judgment. People may die if we make the wrong call.

Do we always know what is best for the individual patient?

It depends. The question to ask our fellow physicians is, is doctor your identity? Are you carrying the glorious (or maybe not-so-glorious) years of gruel training and the knowledge you gained in those years as your unspoken shingle, hanging on top of your head, to indicate that you know much more than the lay people? If that’s your belief, it is just natural that your advice and recommendations are gold. They are the final word, and only ignorant people would defy you. If that is the case, you tend close on others’ opinions or suggestions. This line of thinking may transfer to other parts of your life.

I believe that, as doctors, we are here to serve. The years of 80-hour work week, working 30 hours every 3rd night and “pimping” by senior residents and attendings alike – all molded us to be who we are today. My heart is of service. While I make every medical decision and recommendation based on everything I have learned from my training and from continuing education, my focus is on the patients. If they don’t agree with what I recommend, I am ready to open the discussion and be curious as of the reasons behind it. There may be family reasons, financial limitations, or other hidden dynamics which would not service had I not asked. We are all human beings, and it is impossible to always know what the best thing to do. I do guarantee that I will do my best to make the best recommendations for my patients given the diagnosis, other medical problems, family issues and socioeconomic factors.

Being a physician is not everything I am. I am first of all a human being. I enjoy the human connection. Helping and serving the best way I can is my desire to contribute to the world, no matter how I serve, being a doctor or not.

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