McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Mac invites Hamilton citizens to help teach new doctors

Published: February 24, 2003

Hamilton residents have the opportunity to put graduating doctors on the right path to developing excellent relationships with their future patients.

One hundred and twenty people who have had a good relationship with a medical doctor are being invited to talk one-to-one about their experience with a third-year medical student.

The sessions, organized in partnership with the City of Hamilton, will be held at city hall and at the West End Clinic during Patient Week starting April 28.

Associate professor, family medicine, Dr. Cathy Risdon, said the first-person stories about memorable encounters, and the positive difference it made for the patient, are important for the students to hear.

"Stories are a powerful tool for teaching. Patients have invaluable expertise in defining excellent medical care, and they can have a true impact on the students’ perspective on their future."

One prospective storyteller says, "When my daughter was first in the hospital, with isolation signs posted, you can imagine how upset we were. The very first night of our stay in walks our family doc, at the time fully outfitted in 'isolation' regalia. The smile on Sarah's face and the feelings of reassurance that we all felt from this first visit and the subsequent ones was overwhelming. "

"We went from feeling lost and isolated among strangers, in a strange and frightening situation, to actually feeling somewhat special and cared for on more than just a physical level."

"I still get teary-eyed when I think about the kindness in her eyes when she was telling us what we should expect. Up until her visit no one had explained what was happening and the fear was overwhelming. The time that she took meant more to us than she could have imagined."

The program is part of a new curriculum for the students, at the end of their third year, to prepare them for their lives as medical professionals.

Third year student Menaka Pai is looking forward to learning about patient values, and understanding how doctors have made a positive difference in their life.

"When I start my residency in July, I'll be able to apply this information to my own practice, and provide better care to my patients."

Each volunteer will also have the opportunity to question their student interviewer about her or his individual dreams for their future. Both volunteers and students will be asked to fill out a questionnaire regarding their experience to be used in a research project and for future educational purposes.

Risdon holds the endowed Braley-Gordon Chair in Family Medicine, which supports the interviewing project as part of its mandate to enhance communication and collaboration between doctors and patients.

Applications to become a patient volunteer are being accepted until March 7.

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