As part of the two-year foundation programme, I’m based at one hospital site which serves a small town. Anyone who lives in this town and needs hospital care would come to this hospital. However, for the time being, I’m stationed at a GP practice not too far from the hospital.
During one of my morning appointments, I finished typing up the notes of the patient I’d just seen and clicked onto the next patient. How it works is that I have a list of appointments for the day along with the appointment time. When I need to access the patient’s notes, I double-click their name and occasionally a small grey notification box will pop up with some extra information or reminder or some warning. So, when I clicked on the next patient on the list, the helpful grey box popped up letting me know that this was a consultant, who worked at the same hospital I was based at.
To any other normal individual, they would take this information on board and amend their communication style accordingly. I, on the other hand, start to overthink the situation, making it 10 times more complicated than it needs to be.
Two things immediately spring to my mind about why this will be uncomfortable. The first: speaking to another medic. I’ve mentioned a similar situation here. I just find the whole situation weird, whether it’s me that needs to see my GP or when it’s this type of scenario and the dynamic is shifted to me being the one with the responsibility. I can’t help but think of the irony when I’m sat across from someone who has 20 more years of medical experience. It’s like having your head teacher come to you with a math equation they need help with. It’s a different dynamic.
The second conclusion my mind jumps to is the possibility that I might run into this person again, when I eventually get back to the hospital. Very frequently people share deeply personal issues which I try to deal with as sensitively as possible. That comes with the territory but I can compartmentalise it to an extent and leave it at work with the understanding that I’m unlikely to come across that patient outside of GP. However, the stakes are higher when you see someone who works where you work.
Thankfully, it was blood pressure related. I’ve never been so glad for someone to come in with hypertension. I don’t think I had the emotional bandwidth to handle anything more complicated than that.
How did I handle it? I decided to just treat him like a normal patient and not let on that I knew he was a consultant. Might not have been my brightest idea but I went along with it up until the point where he sort of started using medical terms and I just shifted it slightly to accommodate that. I just never asked what he did for work.