To Name :
To Email :
From Name :
From Email :
Comments :

Commentary


Affording self-respect

Vol. 9, No. 11 / November 2010

I couldn’t agree more with Dr. Henry A. Nasrallah’s editorial, “Integrating psychiatry with other medical specialties” (From the Editor, Current Psychiatry, September 2010, p. 14-15). We cannot expect our colleagues to take us seriously if we don’t afford ourselves self-respect. I came from family practice to psychiatry and have found it a convoluted place with identity issues. We want to be taken seriously but separate ourselves. I am also taken aback by blurry boundaries, starting with the term “client.” When did “patient” become a dirty word? We are doctors, not “friends” or “coaches.” In no other field of medicine is being a doctor or patient treated as a contagion to be avoided. Patient is a sacred term that implies trust and accountability. If I strive to maintain this boundary and sacred trust by wearing my lab coat and referring to my patients as “Mr.” or “Mrs.” rather than by their first name, am I somehow being elitist? Our patients have enough hurdles and gray areas in their lives; the patient-doctor relationship shouldn’t be 1 of them. We have a duty to walk a fine line with utmost care because our treatment is founded on that patient-doctor relationship. As a mentor once said, “In surgery they use scalpels. In psychiatry, we are the scalpels.”

Elizabeth Faust, MD
Psychiatrist
Iowa City, IA

Did you miss this content?
What to tell your bipolar disorder patient who wants to breast-feed