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Don’t ask, don’t tell?

Pulse's locum blogger's back - and has an uncomfortable dilemma when he goes to the surgery as a patient. Should he tell his GP he's a doctor?

Apologies to the two of you who like reading my ramblings. I've finally decided to put fingers to keyboard and update my blog. It's been an interesting couple of months, not least because I am settling nicely into my locum GP job but also because I have been to see my own GP as a patient.

It's an odd experience being on the other side of the desk. You get taught about how to be a GP but no advice on how to be a patient. At first glance it would seem easy enough - sit down, tell your story and get examined, patronised and fobbed off - but there are several factors you need to consider.

Firstly is your own diagnosis. Find me a doctor who doesn't self-diagnose, and you'll have found a fake. My experience and talking to other doctors shows that we tend to fall into two camps – hope for the best ( I've not lost a leg, ‘tis but a scratch) or fear it's the worst (it's not a headache, it's a brain tumour).

What do you do when you have to see your GP? Do you tell them you are a fellow medic, or do you keep it quiet and hope they don't use any big words you don't understand?

What are the advantages of keeping quiet about being a medic? Do you get a more honest consultation when the GP's judgement isn't clouded by the fact you are the senior partner of the mega-practice down the road? What happens if you don't tell and then you don't agree with their management plan? Do you embarrassingly confess and argue your case, or keep quiet still and assume the doctor knows best?

What about if the GP knows you are a medic? Does the GP ask your opinion of what's wrong when what you really want is their non-biased, dispassionate opinion of your problem? What do you do if they start to talk about something that you are frankly ignorant of? These are some of thoughts that ran through my head whilst sat in the waiting room.

In then end they asked me almost immediately so it made bugger all difference anyway.

GP for hire