By Elise, Medical Student
One of the many case videos we have been shown as medical students is one of a young woman who is informed by her doctor that she has a positive pregnancy test.
In the video, when the doctor reassures the young woman and tells her that he will be with her along every step of her pregnancy. He answers her questions, responds to her concerns and – when the time comes – says he will be the one to deliver her baby.
The video presented a mostly positive doctor-patient relationship. The doctor remained calm and considerate in the event of his patient’s initial surprise and concerns.
It seemed like a great example of patient counselling and education.
That was until the video was referred to by a tutor a few weeks later. While giving us advice on being aware of our own personal biases and prejudice, our tutor used the video as an example of a doctor “forcing expectations” on patients.
Our tutor (an experienced doctor) told 12 future doctors of Australia that the doctor’s positive response to the news of a pregnancy in the video was incorrect.
The idea that doctors cannot celebrate the news of a new life unless their patient “chooses” for them to do so goes against our very nature.
From the moment a doctor is aware their patient is pregnant – they know they are responsible for two lives.
That responsibility involves reassuring the patient, providing them with support and guiding them through what can be a stressful time. That responsibility also involves informing our patients; something we can never truly do with attitudes that deny the humanity of the most vulnerable.