Patients sometimes have to deal with a dehumanizing experienceLife as a clinical student means that you get to experience certain hardships as you go about your day to day activities. We regularly come together for our treasured ‘reflections on Clerkship’ moments in our groups and discuss about hard times we are confronted with. It is sometimes very challenging to transit to the more strict schedule in academic medicine. Some doctors spend a lot of time reflecting back on the experiences which their patients have to go through. The truth is that patients are made to go through an incredibly rough time at the hospital.

The vulnerability of patients at hospitals

Well, for most people, this isn’t really a surprise and they think that it is obvious considering that patients are sick and crying loud at the hospital due to their suffering. But most people in the profession of medicine do not remember the rough times that patients are made to endure as they are always caught up in treatment of diseases and might not give a damn about other aspects of the patients. As a result, patients end up going through a rather dehumanizing experience. Consider it like this; a patient will relinquish his or her body control and allow you to inject drugs and cut it open as you run tests. Due to the great trust that patients have on their doctors, they get themselves more vulnerable. Doctors shouldn’t take this trust for granted.

A typical day for patients at the hospital

There are some little things which doctors do to their patients regularly. This is actually not about life threatening surgeries and procedures but some things like diets which they put their patients on and the daily blood tests they run on them. For most doctors, it might not be a big issue to order a blood test/ morning CBC and the last thing they have to worry about is the patient having to go through a needle. For me, my blood is drawn once in a year and I really dread it. What about those patients who are made to go through morning rounds? Just imagine yourself as a patient and being woken up in the dark for your surgical wound to be poked and a team of students and residents all around you asking any kind of question that comes from their head.

A very common thing done by most clinical students is keeping patients NPO, meaning nothing by mouth. Some patients, depending on their condition are made to go for many days without getting a bite of food. The worse thing is that they are expected to lovingly embrace all the clinical decisions made by their doctors while in such state. If you are not in the field of medicine, you might not really understand what all this is about. It is essential that doctors include some little empathy on what they do to their patients in efforts of making the hospital a much better place for the patients.