Forum: An empathetic doctor makes a difference

Leading urologist Professor Christopher Cheng.
Leading urologist Professor Christopher Cheng.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

I applaud Professor Christopher Cheng for his courage to share his personal experience as a doctor-turned-patient and for his courage to apologise to his team members when he realised that he was being the patient from hell (When a doctor becomes the patient, Aug 3).

Doctors at public hospitals may have the knowledge to carry out their work expertly, but not all are able to balance the head and heart knowledge to understand and empathise with the plight of their patients.

I have always wondered if this is due to the exhaustion from attending to a heavy load of patients daily.

However, for the patients, it would make a difference if the attending doctors made the effort to spend time explaining the medical situation to them, instead of either giving standard answers or the impression that "I know best".

I hope other doctors will learn from Prof Cheng's experience to be more empathetic to their patients.

Tan Kwee Yan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 06, 2020, with the headline 'An empathetic doctor makes a difference'. Print Edition | Subscribe