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‘The doctor as the patient’ – the story so far

‘The doctor as the patient’ – the story so far

We previously asked colleagues to tell us their accounts of being a patient for our forthcoming book The doctor as the patient. We are still collecting contributions. We are grateful for the ones we have already received, and here are a few edited versions of some of those stories.

A recipe for success? – advice from a seasoned physician

‘Whenever I had a medical professional as a patient I used the following opening line which I felt broke down any potential barriers and made it easy for the patient to proffer suggestions: “I appreciate all the help I can get, so let’s put our two minds together, and work out what’s best”.’

Those first few words are so important 

‘I retired from general practice some years ago, and am now experiencing medical care very much from the other side. I frequently need to ring the practice where my elderly mother is a patient. I must confess to feeling a little anxious each time I ring, and carefully rehearse my opening lines. However, my anxieties immediately disappear as a result of the warm welcome I receive from the receptionists. How important those first few words are!’

Seeing life from the other side of the consultation desk

‘Over the past 18 months or so, I have been a regular attender at my local district hospital. X rays, scans, blood tests and biopsies are now the norm. I could not resist the temptation to discuss my rare symptoms with my colleagues, and as a result received a plethora of suggestions as to possible
diagnoses (most of which had long Latin names). Should I, or should I not, raise these possible diagnoses with the consultant? After weighing up the pros and cons, I decided to take the plunge. The consultant accepted these possibilities with great alacrity, and subsequently arranged a battery of obscure tests (none of which came back as positive!). However, I was very pleased that the consultant had listened, and put my mind (and that of my colleagues) at rest!’

And one man in his time plays many parts

‘After many years playing the role of a GP, my principal role now is playing the part of the patient. This has given me first-hand experience of how some patients feel. Reflecting on what seemed like a lifetime as a GP, I guess I was so busy dispensing care that I didn’t always think what it must have been like for the patient. I now know exactly what it can feel like to wait in the waiting room. To anxiously rehearse what I will say when my name appears on the screen as the next patient. Will I be able to get my points across? In fact, will I be able to sound remotely coherent?

‘Only now do I realise the true wisdom of the following advice. Golden rule number one: at the beginning of the consultation- whether it’s a face-to-face consultation or a telephone consultation – put the patient at ease. This will make for a far more enjoyable, productive and relaxed consultation for both doctor and patient’.

Self-navigating the diagnostic maze

A doctor contacted us who presented urgently to A&E with a pigmented swollen second toe and swelling of the foot. The AE department undertook a battery of tests, but were perplexed as to the diagnosis. The doctor carefully researched the symptoms himself, and reached the diagnoses of second toe capsulitis which had precipitated acute gout.

We had intended to be compiling the stories into a book at this time, but due to the events of the last few months we have decided it is important for us to include accounts of people who have experienced COVID-19. Many healthcare workers have suffered from this new disease. We are learning more about COVID-19 all the time. If you would like to share your account of this illness and the impact it may have had on you then please consider submitting a story. More details can be found on our website

Dr Rodger Charlton

Dr Samuel Finnikin

Dr David Orlans

Dr Devina Raval



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

John Graham Munro 16 December, 2020 12:25 am


David jenkins 16 December, 2020 1:20 pm

John Graham Munro16 December, 2020 12:25 am

yes – but have you had the proper training to give this very very special and unique injection ?!

i think we should be told !!

Scottish GP 16 December, 2020 7:42 pm

I had mine from a charming young lady, infinitely preferable!