When we chose the lineup of feature stories for this issue of Yale Medicine, we didn’t make a conscious decision to focus on the doctor-patient relationship. True, performer and playwright Anna Deavere Smith had made this topic the focus of her one-woman show, Rounding It Out, for which she interviewed several dozen patients, physicians and staff (See Cathy Shufro’s story, “A Dramatic Turn,”). Good communication—between doctor and patient, mentor and medical student—is also an idea running through John Curtis’ portrait of the Wednesday Evening Clinic (“Learning for the Long Run,”). But the issue’s theme was completed when fourth-year medical student Sharon Chekijian filed her letter from Armenia (“Adrenaline and the Ordinary, in Varying Proportions,”), describing the state of health care in her family’s ancestral homeland. Her observations, gathered over the course of a decade and a half-dozen visits to Yerevan, reveal a different rhythm for medicine in this ex-Soviet state, where doctor and patient may toast the success of the operation together and where the surgeon’s fee may be paid in livestock or potatoes.
Is the doctor-patient relationship alive and well where you practice medicine? What do medical students and young physicians learn from the profession about listening and communicating well? Drop us a line at email@example.com or the address below and tell us what you think.