The Responsibility of the White Coat

During clinicals we learn more than just clinical skills, we learn how to manage patients and put our theoretical knowledge to use. We also learn the culture and the expected behaviour as future doctors.

Almost every time that I have interacted with Consultants (especially older ones) they all share the same sentiment, our (to be) title comes with responsibility. Patients tend to have high expectations of you and they demand that you are well rounded. When a patient comes into the office, they don’t just want you to be able to speak about medicine, but many times they’ll come with an unrelated topic to push the conversation along. Doctors need to be well read and always up to date.

This might not be a fair expectations of us, however the reality is that we are still seen in a certain light in society, especially the further away from Kingston you go.

After a presentation I did, the moderator asked us what was the point of this, why were we tasked with doing presentations? The answers varied but he eventually gave the response. He told us that whether we like it or not, after we complete school we’ll be seen as authorities. Persons will put a certain level of trust and belief into us because of the ‘Dr’ in front of our names. We will be asked to speak at places and events, asked to make presentations and will be asked to make judgement on health matters. So presenting is a skill we should learn from now.

whether we like it or not, being a doctor is more than just treating illnesses. We are expected to be well spoken, well rounded, knowledgeable on topics outside of medicine. We are expected to do many things well. I think that the point of consultants reminding us of this responsibility, isn’t so that we will panic, but more so that we will take the time to focus on other things besides medicine and become well rounded individuals… (with hobbies, interests and a life!)


Samantha C. Johnson

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