Tag Archives: education

Notes on the Ethics of Reflection

IMG_2670 2 cropped small to send

Sharon A. Dobie MCP, MD

It is important that we reflect and write about the work we do with patients. As we reflect, we create a narrative that sometimes becomes a written piece. We cannot really tell our stories without including the patients because it is actually our perception of the patients and their stories. And yet, we also have a covenant of confidentiality with our patients. Beyond what HIPAA says, we live within ethical considerations that must protect our patients.

What then can we do when we write and then want to share that writing with a friend, in a blog, or for a journal submission?

When writing about patients, we must respect these ethical considerations. In an evolving set of guidelines, the best practice remains to show what we write to the person about whom we wrote. That is what I encourage writers to do whenever possible. It can be scary and it is always fruitful. You might learn more about the story, about the person, about yourself, and the bias inherent in your viewpoint. That information might lead you to add to or edit your reflection. Then what you have is a co-creation, and your patients will feel valued and respected. Alternatively, these conversations may also clarify reasons to not publish the piece.

Continue reading

Transgender Is Not a Verb: Three Ways to Provide Compassionate Care to Trans Patients

By Stephanie Aldrin, Medical Student

According to the Institute of Medicine, transgender and gender nonconforming patients access health care less often than their cisgender counterparts. And when transgender patients do seek medical attention, it is often with more serious ailments.1 While many factors contribute to these disparities, health care providers can play a crucial role in reducing the stigma associated with seeing the doctor and in promoting safer health care environments for the trans members of our communities.

In fall 2015, the clinic I work at, Smiley’s Family Medicine Clinic, asked its patients who identify as transgender or gender nonconforming to speak candidly about their experiences accessing primary care. I remember scrambling to take notes as I listened to the patients’ stories and feeling grateful for the opportunity to have this small window into the challenges of seeking health care as a trans person.

Three major themes emerged from the patients’ experiences. First, small changes in language can positively impact the way a patient feels during and after an encounter with health care providers. Second, trans patients see their doctors for a number of reasons, and, like their cisgender counterparts, want to be seen as any other patient and not have their gender identity be the focus of the visit. Finally, positive partnerships occur when physicians come into the exam room as their authentic selves, who genuinely care about the patient in front of them.

Continue reading

Video and Direct Observation Precepting: Time to Remove Our Head From the Sand

Keith Foster, PhD

Keith Foster, PhD

Advances in technology have made direct observation by video recording or live-feed easy and affordable, allowing the most financially limited programs to conduct direct observation this way. It is not surprising, then, that a large number of family medicine residency programs use some form of video recording or live-feed direct observation.

What is surprising is the absence of or only passing reference to the issues of informed consent, patient authorization, and procedural guidelines related to video recording and live-feed precepting in the examining room, particularly in the age of HIPAA.

Continue reading