This isn't a new revelation, but one that has occurred to me more during my GP placement.
I have come to realize that doctors need to put on a mask most of the time as patients come to doctors for various kinds of problems. No matter how annoyed you are about a patient or how fed up you are with your clinic, you cannot let it show. There are tons of patients out there who visit the GP 2-4x a month and I'm sure as the GP you can get frustrated/annoyed with the patient especially when they are coming in for insignificant things. It is definitely difficult as patients expect the doctor to be professional and empathetic, but it is extremely difficult to show this when the patient themselves aren't coming in with the right intentions. I have sat in clinics where the patient is very rude and overly demanding. And as a doctor, you can't do anything about their rudeness, other than still treat them respectfully and try your best to listen. Definitely need a high tolerance level when dealing with "troublesome" patients. On the contrary, there are certainly very nice patients (usually tend to be the elderly). They are usually very respectful and always apologizing about wasting your time. These are the patients who are worth treating and you can't help but be a bit more empathetic, despite knowing that you're supposed to treat all patients with empathy and care.
However, masks are not just for GPs. As I have mentioned earlier, I have encountered it in my other placements. You would think surgeons wouldn't need to put on a mask as often, as they have a bit less patient contact. Unfortunately, surgeons have just as much face time with patients; however, the reasons of putting on a mask may be different. After a surgery and you have to break some bad news/complications about the surgery, you have to be able to put on a confident face and an appropriate mask. There isn't as much time for you to gather yourself after the operation. GPs or physicians in general would get results/bad news ahead of time so they will be ready and have time to think about how they will break the news. It is definitely a tough job as you don't want to show that much emotion when talking to patients especially after a tough case/surgery.
With clinics, you could enjoy the company of one of the patients and be laughing about something, but you have to be able to quickly return back to neutral before seeing your next patient. It can work the other way around as for one particular case, we were giving our condolences to a patient as her father had just passed away the day before and she was telling us about his death. Definitely an emotional/sad moment where you have to again put on a mask and empathize and comfort the patient. Easily within 2 minutes between patients, you have to regain your composure and be ready for the next patient as he or she can come in with anything. You certainly can't let things affect you and as well for doctors, you have to be good with moving on. You can't dwell on one particular case.
There has been arguments that doctors should not bring their outside emotions to work. Despite having a horrible morning, people argue that you shouldn't bring that grumpiness into the work place. I personally agree with that point as it isn't fair to your patients and your colleagues. I have met a few GPs who said that it is important to bring your emotions to work as you will seem more genuine. I don't mind bringing in a good mood to work, but I certainly wouldn't want to bring in grumpiness to the work place as you can easily affect your patients and colleagues. No one wants to see a grumpy doctor. In my eyes, I think my emotions should not affect my work, so even in that sense, you will have to put on a mask before coming to work especially when you're having a bad day. People argue as a doctor you should be genuine, but for me it is far more advantageous if I put on a mask for work and sort out my issues/problems when I go home/leave work.
What are your thoughts about putting on a mask for work or bringing your emotions to work?
Post your comments below!