Practice of faith strengthens doctor-patient relationship

Source: Public Opinion

By Amatul Khalid

Amatul Khalid is a Chambersburg physician.

In my 31 years of medical practice, I have felt humble and helpless at times. At other times, I have felt accomplished – or felt I could have done better.

Doctors are just human beings who sometimes can provide a cure by reaching a right diagnosis at the right time. We can alleviate symptoms most of the time, but always can provide comfort.

My grandfather, who was a physician, once said: “By becoming a doctor one should never forget that he is still a human being who has limited power in his hands, the rest is in the hands of the Creator. When treating and curing someone never think that you solely who have accomplished this – it is God who guided you in the right direction to help the patient at the right time. It is wrong as doctors start thinking that we can make a person live or die. Actually, the Omnipotent God has all the capabilities to guide one to the correct doctor, the correct diagnosis and the correct treatment at the correct time. However, if it is not in the fate of that patient to live or get better, things will keep going wrong from different directions, no matter how much effort you put in.”

He also said that, “When we chose to become a medical providers, it becomes imperative upon us to a patient feel better through compassion and empathy. If you have empathy and sympathy toward the patient, your heart will bow down with your soul in front of the Creator to ask for guidance and that empathy and prayer will result in healing for the patient.”

A believer is not supposed to associate anyone with God, but as human beings we associate so many gods with our Creator in our daily lives. When a doctor cures a patient and feels proud of his accomplishment, he or she is thinking that he did it on his own.  Unfortunately, that is when the ego takes over and makes one feel superior to others, resulting in arrogance that can lead to destruction of empathy and sympathy. When a patient tells me, “You you made me feel better,” I humbly respond that I am just a human being – God is the one who guides us in the right direction.

A doctor is a consultant, which does not mean that he can impose his decisions upon a patient, but he can suggest and guide his patient to the proper decisions, to help him take the road to recovery. When a patient is involved in making decisions about a treatment plan, there is higher chance of compliance and trust, and that results in positive outcomes.

On the other hand if one sits in the consultation room in front of his patient and commands his patient to follow his orders, the patient will feel intimidated and may or may not follow the treatment regimen. Hence, humbleness and humility and putting yourself in the shoes of the patient to bring empathy to the relationship can promote compliance.

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