Saturday, November 13, 2010

All In the Name of Medical Education

I've often wondered why we don't try to find a new doctor.  Though I really quite like and respect Dr. K, she lives in the furthest corner of the city from us since moving her clinic a few years ago to start a new family medicine teaching practice.

Our doctor is very well reputed in the province (which is why we stay as patients) and heads up an innovative program that enables us to get timely appointments.  The cost to us of these benefits is that we need to put up with the fact that she is teaching a group of resident doctors, and that these residents are the first (and sometimes only) doctors to see us.

I went for my annual physical yesterday afternoon.  I hate these things at the best of times.  But I've also had to get used to the fact that the residents on duty usually forget to introduce themselves, ask the same questions over and over (because they forget that they just asked me that two minutes ago), have the bedside manner of a flea, and take copious notes under the guise of "needing to update the file" (like that's changed so much in the past twelve months!).  I've learned to plan my time carefully on these days, because appointments with a resident can take well over an hour/person to complete (yesterday it took 2.75 hours - yes, almost three hours - to get through a basic physical for both Matthew and me!).   I'm even used to the resident disappearing from the exam room several times during each visit in order to consult with our doctor about some thing or another.

But much is one expected to take?

During yesterday's physical, in the midst of enduring the famous pap test (I told him it would be easier with the narrow speculum but oh no...he had to learn that for himself and then confirm, with surprise, that I was right - huh), and after putting up with several of his frustrated attempts to get the thing done, I heard him mutter to the nurse beside him:  "how does this thing work anyway?"  Yeah, that's a real confidence booster, let me tell you.  They then proceeded to confer for a couple of minutes, asking me occasionally how I was "doing up there" - not really understanding, I suppose, that there can be no appropriate response to that question when they are having a conversation down there while looking right at my down there.

It's no wonder that I've come to dread my annual visit.  Really, I'm all for the education of our doctors and am even willing to sacrifice in order to accomplish this end, but how much is one expected to do to further the cause?!

PS.  I can't believe I just wrote about that!


  1. you know, I keep meaning to go to the pap clinic at my midwife's office. It's downtown, drop in, on a Saturday (I think it's the 3rd sat of the month but I'd have to confirm) and they should know what they're doing since it's their specialty! :) I'm hopeful that getting it done there will be a more bearable experience!


  2. Oh I hear you! And I must say I got that "do I laugh or do I cry" emotion as I read this one!!! Detest those appointments... without ever being asked how I'm doing up there.... Oh my....

  3. is it bad that I laughed? Obviously you are the person that is giving our future doctors some practice... The entire city thanks you ;)

  4. Thx for the empathy guys! And no, Sheldon, it's not bad that you laughed...I had to do the same, otherwise I might have cried! You're just lucky, in this respect, that you're a guy!


  5. I dread these appointments so much that I had gone almost eight years without one until a month ago when I was sick and went back to my beloved childhood doctor. When he heard how long it had been since I had had a pap, he insisted that I have one right then and there. I'm so glad it's over and done with (for another eight years?!?!)

  6. I feel your pain Ruth (even though I hate to admit that I am laughing at your story!!!) Ugh. Poor you :)
    Reminds me of the first time I was in labour and a few residents wanted to check how dilated I was. Trying to be polite (while in labour!) I painfully allowed them to fumble around at length on at least 3-4 different occasions before I cracked and told them NO they may not check me anymore!!!
    I think you have officially done your duty in training new doctors. Someone else's turn now:)

  7. OK... so even though (or maybe because) I am a health professional - I NEVER, repeat NEVER let anyone practise on me. I'm afraid that they may have to work too hard on their beside manner should I have an experience like yours and totally lose it all over them. It's really in their best interest...
    I'd admire you, but I'm not going to emulate you on this one!

  8. Yeah, I don't know what's wrong with my brain. I keep telling myself that I won't do this any more, but it's just so darn hard finding a doctor in this city, and I really trust the one who monitors all of these questionably competent residents.

    Yikes. I'm laughing at myself now!


  9. this would be a good time to say, LMAO. and i have not been around your blog in a while, i see we have sunk to a new level!! ha ha ha . wow you crack me up with your descriptions and also bring tears when discussing other subjects. i hope we can talk soon