Wednesday, June 25, 2008

physician health

As I discussed in my last post, I've been spending a fair bit of time reading other blogs, some pertinent to medicine, others not. It is quite striking to me the number of doctors who discuss having ADHD themselves and how they've learned to cope with it. With this in mind, I did some research to try to find the incidence and prevalence of ADHD in physicians, to no avail. There is a wealth of information available on the internet for parents of kids with ADHD, for physicians who make the diagnosis or treat patients who've been diagnosed by another medical/mental health professional, for adults with the diagnosis, etc. Even on pubmed, there is nothing that I could find.

However, that point aside, there is very interesting information on doctors as patients. We are taught early on that our job, as physicians, is to take care of other people, not to become sick ourselves. We refer patients to mental health professionals, but we don't go ourselves; if we have back pain, we tend to take some ibuprofen and keep going, perhaps not always the best approach! There is a book, "When Doctors Become Patients," written by a psychiatrist from Columbia University Medical Center, Dr. Robert Klitzman, discussed in a NY Times blog from February, 2008: I haven't read the book yet, but I would definitely like to. He discusses what he learned himself from illness, not just the misery of waiting for several hours to see the doctor, as many patients do, but communicating with the doctor, and especially, accepting the he himself was not invincible. I know that for myself, I try to do my own "doctoring" when possible, rather than to go see someone. Part of that is that I don't want to accept that I too become sick, and part of it has to do with living in a small town where I feel I need to go out-of-town for care for privacy issues. It's just interesting to think about this topic, that maybe we need become better patients ourselves to become better doctors. I am not suggesting we wallow in our times of illness, but to be aware that we can learn from these experiences and use them to improve ourselves professionally.

Please excuse me while I go on a hunt for this book! And, thanks to Andy for the hint of the shortened URLs!!

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