Sunday, November 1, 2009

Med J Australia: The decline of clinical contact in medicine

Bill Lancashire, Craig T Hore and Robert G Fassett
MJA 2009; 191 (9): 508-510


  • Patient contact with medical students and clinicians may be on the decline.

  • Increasing medical graduate numbers, workforce and training demands, and the institution of safe working hours are putting pressure on opportunities for direct clinical interaction.

  • Medical education curricula and clinical postgraduate education supervisors must ensure that students and junior doctors recognise the importance of hands-on clinical contact with patients.

  • Although many new developments aid health care efficiencies and can assist with the complexities of care required in a modern hospital, clinicians need to maintain their focus on the patient.

    My Comments:
    Declining soft therapeutic skills, lost art of the Clinical Encounter
    Another recent commentary from the Medical Journal of Australia, which decries the gradual but steady decline in doctor-patient contact, an erosion of the clinical learning experience, a diminishing of the special doctor-patient encounter and relationship.

    It's time to focus back on the patient and enhance and enrich that unique relationship--that clinical contact which would make us less dependent on technology and lessen the aloofness which some patients are complaining about more and more. Many are finding the so-called modern encounter too rushed,  too brief and too impersonal. This may be driving some patients away to alternative therapies which somehow emphasise more personal and empathetic outreach...

    We must learn to rekindle this clinical skill and recognise its importance!

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