Friday, March 30, 2012

The trouble with bad communication...

This one isn't really about me.  Well ok, it pretty much is, except it isn't so much about what I have or haven't done.  It's my big gripe of the current hour, and it's something that you would expect a medical school - of all people - would be able to get right.

So much research goes into making sure that patients get as much as they can out of consultations with their doctors, and vice versa.  At some point, models of patient consultation became fashionable and they boomed.  Someone must have been paying attention, because now it's unusual for a university not to give structured teaching on how to talk to patients.  But who teaches them how to talk to each other?

My first year at university went badly - not academically, but in almost every other way possible.  I was depressed because of how awful things were, which was surely compounding everything and making it all worse, but I didn't tell anyone because, by this point, I had become wise to what would happen if I did.  I told them about my AS after a few weeks there because it was obviously impacting on my med school experience, but nothing was really being done about it.  Sure, support was put in place - if you could call it that.  But all it really did was make me more of a target, and I was being accused of such ridiculous things after a few months.

There were a few people in all of it who I felt were genuine in their desire to help, but everyone else gave the distinct feeling that they were helping only as much as they felt they had to, and only as much as was convenient for them and their reputation as a medical school.

This year, however, I have had no problems thus far - mainly because I've only been seeing people on my terms, when I actually need help.  I have been fine with patients and everyone at university, and I haven't been asked to speak to anyone in faculty regarding anything that has been flagged up while I've been at the hospital,  Great, right?  Well, it would be if I wasn't still being told that something is wrong.

One person who is meant to be my advocate at university is probably creating most of my anxiety.  I know she is there to help me, but a lot of her e-mails just fill me with fear and she probably doesn't really realise.  She tells me about things that would be useful to know, but not the details that would actually be useful.  Like, for example, the most recent thing she told me was that the med school might not let me graduate.  That's literally all she told me - "the med school might not let you graduate".  No explanation of why or how long they have been thinking this.

But why does she think this?  Well it is probably something she was told last year when things were going awfully, but it doesn't help that she tells me this now and nothing more.  Every e-mail she sends me has something important in it but nothing more to explain what's actually going on, and it's ironic that her e-mails are the result of bad communication between her and the med school.  The med school tell her what they feel she needs to know, and then she thinks she's doing a favour by sharing those same scraps of information with me.  I am getting fed up because I am losing so much productivity time with all this stressing I am doing.

I have been on the receiving end of bad communication for a while now, but I have only this week thought how this can compare with patients' experiences when doctors decide not to be completely open and honest with them about what they might be thinking or why they are doing what they are doing.  In fact, just watching Grey's Anatomy last night, I saw the exact same thing, with doctors being curt and abrasive to patients and not telling them everything they want to know, and I didn't like it...

By the way, this isn't an e-mail advocating that you don't tell your university about any difficulties you might anticipate having!  Just be more sure about what you're actually going to get out of it.

Continued in Part 2

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