Reflections on Doctors’ Day: What Patients Have Taught Them
Mar 29, 2023
Sutter Health
Neurologist doing a memory assessment on a patient.

By Marika Rose, Vitals contributor

March 30 is National Doctors’ Day, and several Northern California doctors were asked what they wished they’d learned in medical school and what their patients have taught them. The common theme: the importance of the doctor-patient relationship and human connection.

Dr. Soham Jhaveri, doctor in a suit.

Dr. Soham Jhaveri says he wished he was taught to really listen to patients during medical school.

“I wish I’d learned more about the patient experience piece, and how to make a patient feel at ease,” said Dr. Soham Jhaveri, an internal medicine physician with Sutter’s Palo Alto Foundation Medical Group in Fremont. “Listening is an art that isn’t taught during medical school, and it’s critical to building strong relationships with patients. Through listening well and making the patient feel heard, (I) can create a bond with patients in a very short time frame.”

That should be music to the ears of Hippocrates, the Greek physician who lived 2,400 years ago and is considered the father of modern medicine. He taught that the doctor-patient relationship should be built on trust, and that trust is built on observation and communication. Essentially, he believed that doctors have as much to learn from their patients as patients have to learn from their doctors. 

“My patients have taught me the value of human connection,” said Dr. Kusum Lata, an interventional cardiologist with Sutter Gould Medical Group in Tracy. “Medicine is a long-term dynamic learning and cannot be completed in medical school.”

Dr. Kusum Lata, interventional cardiologist in Tracy, Calif.

Dr. Kusum Lata says her patients have taught her the value of human connection.

A study in the Annals of Family Medicine found that doctor-patient relationships can help improve health outcomes and patient satisfaction. Dr. Jhaveri has seen how this relationship has helped him to give them the correct medical advice and treatment.

“Medicine is so complex, and diseases are ever evolving. In this context, my patients have taught me to remain inquisitive and humble. They have taught me to always get the full story behind the (physical) complaint so that we can better help them,” he said.

One of the goals in the United States of National Doctors’ Day is to “take the opportunity to thank your physician for responding to late-night phone calls, working long hours, and providing unswerving care,” the description of Doctors’ Day states. “Today, more than ever, we know the sacrifices they make to put the health of their communities first.”

Dr. Patty Sierra in doctor scrubs.

Dr. Patty Sierra says her patients being grateful for her medical care has taught her the importance of being grateful, too.

That, too, is something her patients have taught Dr. Patty Sierra, an ophthalmologist with Sutter Independent Physicians in Sacramento – gratitude.

“Treating my patients teaches me every day the importance of striving for purposeful and meaningful work and, especially, the importance of being grateful,” she said. “Despite their health challenges, most of our patients are extremely grateful for the care we provide and for our efforts to improve their lives.”

In honor of National Doctors’ Day, you can show your appreciation for a physician who has touched your life in an important way. Tax-deductible gifts may be made here.

For more information on Doctors’ Day, visit here.  

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