Doctors + Patience
"Doctors + Patience" is a first-person, long-form feature article that first appeared in Saturday Night, a Canadian magazine (now out of print) in 2004. This article was, for its time, a path breaking, in-depth examination of how doctors communicate with their patients and how patient-doctor communication is taught in Canadian medical schools. In Doctors + Patience, the Toronto-based, award-winning author Marni Jackson shadows medical students on their journey from the classroom to their work/study in hospitals. She also accompanies her close friend, 'Liza', to appointments with various surgeons as Liza undergoes treatment for a sudden, life-threatening illness. Jackson focuses specifically on what were, at that time, relatively new and innovative techniques in medical school training, specifically at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, which is world-renowned for its innovative problem-based learning (PBL). PBL is now practiced in many schools across the country and around the globe. Jackson's discussion of teaching techniques incorporating PBL suggests that patient-centred medicine is not only essential to the practice of good communication skills between practitioner and patient that make interactions more positive. Better listening skills can, she argues, help to ensure better, more efficient (and arguably more cost effective) care. Touching on the writings about Narrative Medicine by Arthur Frank, Jackson's article weaves together the stories of patients, researchers, doctors, and medical students. This article provides a colourful and well-balanced overview of currents in thinking about medical education in Canada during the past decade.
Deborah Ostrovsky is a writer and editor whose work frequently touches upon the history of medicine and women's health.