Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Patients to be asked what they need from doctors

BMJ 2019; 366 doi: (Published 12 July 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;366:l4690

Rapid Response:

Re: Patients to be asked what they need from doctors

As final year medical students, we strongly agree with the author on the importance of asking the public on their needs from us, as future practitioners. Our training is highly dependent on learning through the experiences of our tutors who each have a very different style of practicing medicine, but at times, could be considered out-dated. However, we also do understand the challenges of asking the public of their needs for the fear of developing a rigid structure which may not be suited for all patients.

Instead, we believe we should be shifting towards training medical students on the importance of treating the patient in front of them as an individual, as opposed to teaching a textbook disease or illness. In addition, some patients prefer a paternalistic approach for the fear of making decisions and the idea that their doctor knows best [1].

We believe the true way of understanding the public needs is by integrating early patient contact into the curriculums of all medical schools so that students are able to understand that one size does not fit all and to truly understand their patients needs and therefore understanding the public's needs.

[1] Cole, J., Kiriaev, O., Malpas, P. and Cheung, G. (2017). ‘Trust me, I’m a doctor’: a qualitative study of the role of paternalism and older people in decision-making when they have lost their capacity. Australasian Psychiatry, 25(6), pp.549-553.

Competing interests: No competing interests

22 July 2019
Rupinder K Grewal
Medical student
Hashini Jayalath
King's College London GKT School Of Medical Education, Strand, London WC2R 2LS