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Views & Reviews Personal View

A lesson learnt

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 09 December 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b5357
  1. Sharon Elizabeth Whitehorn, associate specialist in paediatrics and hospital practitioner, community drugs team and genitourinary medicine, Ashton Community Care Centre, Lancaster
  1. shrprc{at}

    I have been reflecting on how my practice of medicine has changed over the years. I have always been a friendly sort and have spent much time worrying about whether I am not formal enough with my patients. I don’t quite let them call me by my first name, but I do sometimes let my consultations become friendly chats, and I have worried that this approach might reduce my patients’ respect for me. My memory of childhood consultations with doctors is of men and women in tweed suits talking to my parents in an authoritative manner and commanding total trust and respect from them.

    When I graduated from medical school I also wanted to be viewed with high regard by my patients and to be seen as being totally in control of the consultation, dealing with their difficulties but imparting …

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