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It is harder to empathize with doctors

It is harder to empathize with doctors 2

Workshop Contrast –

Witten – For doctors, in everyday practice, it is becoming increasingly difficult to preserve empathy and humor. Stefan Gesenhues, a family physician from Ochtrup in Münsterland, and director of the Institute of General Medicine at the Essen University Hospital, explained this recently on the evening lecture at Witten / Herdecke University. Problems arise for both patients and physicians.

"Every morning when I go to work on bicycles, which is already in the neighborhood of six, because we have to start so early to go through the day, only one topic goes through my head: how to stay on top of that emotional day," said a family physician from Ochtrup Münsterland. "And I'll tell you, I will not succeed," says Gesenhues.

He also missed the time to stop before entering the office and to consider the impression he had left for the patient. "Last winter we had more than 40 patients a day in the daily routine of seven to seven o'clock, which had not been scheduled," said the university professor.

Meanwhile, in practice, which usually functions as a "naming practice", he has established an "acute unit" consisting only of a standing doctor's desk and a chair and couch for the patient to handle this number of patients. "On the other hand, all that I teach my students in Essen on" medical communication "is interrupted all day." It is recommended for students who have completed internship or internship in their group practice, led by six colleagues, "Fast forgetting everything", which they taught at the university.

A political solution is needed

"Empathy in medicine in the minute is almost impossible to afford, and I'm still waiting for a prescription," said Gesenhues, who does not work any more, even though he has been in medicine for 40 years, and in his opinion today's biggest challenge in medicine remains empathy.

Another problem with this: "We have lost the authenticity because we have not treated the patients for a long time in the way we want them to heal." His patients are so "at best oppressed – even those who are seriously ill". For more than eight months, new patients are stopping. "For our employees, it is the worst thing that every day is needed to cancel the patient's phone." Still, patients would come to the practice, they would really be looking for care, but then they sent them.

According to Gesenhue, the problem can only be resolved politically. "We need different approaches to care and much more personal responsibility for patients." Now they have no responsibility for carrying the electronic health card as a "free ticket for permanent use". "And as doctors, we need to take the whole thing, but we can not fix it anymore." One of the biggest challenges today is to tell the patients they can not get. "And much empathy is lost." It's a "big problem" for him.

Bad for medical health

Tobias Esch, the Institute for Integrative Health Care and Health Promotion, Witten / Herdecke University, said things like addiction, depression, and suicidal ideation increase to the same extent as empathy and experience of involvement, reduce. This was the first assessment of the research project "GAP – Happiness in Doctors Practice", which Witten / Herdecke University has been studying since 2017.

"It is an amazing thing – and we know from our university – that physicians who are again learning to sympathize and manage their own resources are not only happier and healthier, but also their patients are better," Esch reported. This is also witnessed by a hospital study in Cologne-Merheim, which is also a private university hospital. So, surgeons who have received empathy training have significantly better postoperative success in treating a surgeon who did not undergo such training.

Humor Workshops for Future Doctors

For medical students, the university has been offering humor for two years in cooperation with the Humor Hilft Healing Foundation. "This is what we want to suppress the high emotional pressure that medical students have, namely humor, mental hygiene and the ability to establish contact with other people," explained Eckart von Hirschhausen.

He called it "scary" because of the frequent loss of empathy during medical studies that these students apparently "somehow systematically abolished in many universities". In addition, doctors are traditionally extremely poor in finding help when they need it. He suggested that physicians were already motivated during the studies to seek professional help in case of illness.

The doctor and comedian invited the doctors to be aware of before they enter the patient room again and the impression he left the doctor on the patient. "You need to be aware that the patient has a feeling for any nonverbal communication," von Hirschhausen said. Therefore, the most important thing is when entering the "antenna extension" room and approaching the patient sensitively.

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