What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine

What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine

by Danielle Ofri
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What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine by Danielle Ofri

A look at the emotional side of medicine—the shame, fear, anger, anxiety, empathy, and even love that affect patient care
Physicians are assumed to be objective, rational beings, easily able to detach as they guide patients and families through some of life’s most challenging moments. But doctors’ emotional responses to the life-and-death dramas of everyday practice have a profound impact on medical care. And while much has been written about the minds and methods of the medical professionals who save our lives, precious little has been said about their emotions. In What Doctors Feel, Dr. Danielle Ofri has taken on the task of dissecting the hidden emotional responses of doctors, and how these directly influence patients.
How do the stresses of medical life—from paperwork to grueling hours to lawsuits to facing death—affect the medical care that doctors can offer their patients? Digging deep into the lives of doctors, Ofri examines the daunting range of emotions—shame, anger, empathy, frustration, hope, pride, occasionally despair, and sometimes even love—that permeate the contemporary doctor-patient connection. Drawing on scientific studies, including some surprising research, Dr. Danielle Ofri offers up an unflinching look at the impact of emotions on health care.
With her renowned eye for dramatic detail, Dr. Ofri takes us into the swirling heart of patient care, telling stories of caregivers caught up and occasionally torn down by the whirlwind life of doctoring. She admits to the humiliation of an error that nearly killed one of her patients and her forever fear of making another. She mourns when a beloved patient is denied a heart transplant. She tells the riveting stories of an intern traumatized when she is forced to let a newborn die in her arms, and of a doctor whose daily glass of wine to handle the frustrations of the ER escalates into a destructive addiction. But doctors don’t only feel fear, grief, and frustration. Ofri also reveals that doctors tell bad jokes about “toxic sock syndrome,” cope through gallows humor, find hope in impossible situations, and surrender to ecstatic happiness when they triumph over illness.  The stories here reveal the undeniable truth that emotions have a distinct effect on how doctors care for their patients. For both clinicians and patients, understanding what doctors feel can make all the difference in giving and getting the best medical care.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807033302
Publisher: Beacon Press
Publication date: 05/06/2014
Pages: 232
Sales rank: 197,842
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Danielle Ofri, MD, PhD, is an associate professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine and has cared for patients at New York’s Bellevue Hospital for more than two decades. Writing in the Guardian, Andrew Solomon singled out Ofri as the only woman among an extraordinary new generation of doctor writers, saying, “Ofri has produced four impressive books and numerous articles, all striking for their reversion to empathy, their willingness to sense not only the physical life of a patient, but also the emotional.” Ofri’s books and articles have become academic staples in medical schools, universities and residency programs. She is the editor in chief of the Bellevue Literary Review and writes regularly for the New York Times. Ofri in New York City.

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What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I first read Dr. Ofri's insightful writings in an online article, and I knew I needed to read this book. Dr. Ofri writes openly about the feelings doctors experience, both the joyful positive ones and the shameful negative ones. I felt an immediate connection with the book and with Dr. Ofri, whom I've never met, as like her, I have lived and continue to live in this culture of medicine. In this book, Dr. Ofri beautifully shares her experiences and those of other doctors as they grow from being medical students (when they were still normal human beings) to being residents (trying so hard to prove themselves worthy of joining the ranks of their mentors and instructors) to independent self-sufficient "real" doctors capable of calling all the shots and saving lives. Throughout these stages, there are overwhelming emotions that are tamped down and minimized, hidden from others, denied even to themselves, and muddled together with experiences that ultimately damage the spirit of the person known as "doctor." Dr. Ofri also shares the joy we feel when our patients are healthy, when they recover from illness, when they "beat the odds," when they allow us into their lives and hearts so that we may know them and their struggles intimately. She illustrates beautifully the bond between doctor and patient that so many of us yearn to build and rejoice in discovering. She also points out that in most cases our patients are unaware of how their lives and conditions affect us as human beings, how we hope for their sufferings to end, that we pray for them to overcome their struggles and be at peace. I've learned a lot about my doctor culture by reading this book. I've begun to allow myself to feel more, to share more, to open up more, with myself and others with regard to my experiences in medicine.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I certainly will not take my doctor for granted anymore. I recommend this book very highly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Empathic journey of doctor's own feeling points, highs and lows, including well-researched experiences of peers and patients. Impacts of feelings upon both is exlplored in depth with intriging stories.