Patient’s Choice


I’ve recently had a few experiences, while getting healthcare, that leave me wondering what is being taught in medical schools about “bedside manner”. It’s got to still be a thing, right? Let’s talk about it for a moment.

You know how you may have some students observing in your doctor’s office? I thought that the norm was to ask the patient if they want to have a student observe them BEFORE they actually have the student in the room with you. That’s just my thought; I could be totally wrong about that but in polite society where a patient has a choice, I’d assume that would be standard, ask first. (I’m now wondering if the term “polite society” is an oxymoron.)

I asked a medical student that question (completely removed from these events) and they informed me that indeed the patient should be asked first at that point they as the student never see that patient. I’ve had to ask a few students to leave out of the examination room because I wasn’t asked FIRST. I felt bad for a few because it wasn’t their fault, I should have been asked FIRST. The issues I’m having right now are pretty major so I can see how a preceptor might want the student to have the experience but not at the expense of the patient being made to feel uncomfortable. I literally felt intruded upon. At this point in my life I have no problem asking the student to leave as the issues I’m having leave me feeling like I don’t need anymore scrutiny. I’m polite of course (I think.) but in my opinion I shouldn’t have been put in that position in the first place. It also makes me wonder about when that happens to people who don’t feel comfortable speaking up. Do they then have their visit ruined because of this intrusion? They may not get all their questions answered because they don’t feel comfortable being frank in front of a stranger.

I’m not trying to make this into a talk about consent but now that the word has been put out there, it really is about consent. It’s about treating the patient like a human and not some tool to be learned upon. Yes, I meant to use the word “upon”. Really, that’s what it feels like.

Having been put in that position when I was much younger I wouldn’t have spoken up. I speak up now.

Has anyone else experienced such? I ask you not rhetorically but because I’d love to hear your experiences as well in getting healthcare or if you are a healthcare giver I’d really love to hear your thoughts. If you are a student, definitely I’d love to hear from you. One of my thoughts while this was happening to me was that perhaps the student didn’t get a chance to observe me, per se, as a patient but there was an opportunity to learn in that situation. Learn that the patient has a choice, not to be offended and move on to the next patient. Sadly, one “student” had a serious attitude after I asked them to leave. I can only hope this person learns this lesson. I certainly learned something during these experiences. That there will be moments that try your patience and kindness these moments are fleeting and you don’t get them back. Take a breath, take control, roll with it.

Thanks for reading, please comment.