No one’s perfect, and that applies to doctors just as much as other people.

Doctors increasingly are under attack in Australia and elsewhere. We are accused of thinking more of our incomes and status than of our patients.

We are accused by the political parties, by the media, and by the public.

Some of these criticisms are justified. But most are not.

But I will admit that we do have one fault. And to me, this is the basis of all the mistrust and lack of understanding which occurs between us and those we serve — our patients.

We don’t know how to communicate.

Most doctors are hard-working, competent, and concerned about their patients’ welfare. But we can’t seem to establish rapport, or a two-way communication, with our patients.

A doctor needs to be a good diagnostician — that is, he needs to find out what is wrong with the patient. And he needs to be a good therapist — he needs to know how to treat the patient’s complaint.

But the best diagnostician and the best therapist still may not satisfy the patient if the doctor is not capable of two further things.


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