For me, one of the most important aspects of my job, when I was a hospital doctor, was making sure my patients had information. Sufficient, accurate and reliable information, that would help them to understand their condition and the treatment options available. Only then would they be fully enabled to make choices.
As a very junior doctor, I was appalled at the patronising and dismissive way in which a consultant brushed off the worries of a woman who he decided needed a hysterectomy. She received no helpful information from him and was understandably anxious.
As a registrar, I had to intervene when I overheard my junior in the next cubicle in antenatal clinic, giving a patient totally inaccurate information regarding screening investigations. I took over the consultation to make sure she went away with all the facts to help her make an informed decision.
As a house officer, I regularly had to do a second ward round after the consultant’s ward round, so that I could mop up the carnage he left in his wake! Patients were left quaking in their beds after being told they needed surgery, but no information was given about why or how or what if…?
This isn’t an article about doctor bashing, nor is it intended to be an arrogant “aren’t I wonderful” piece. It’s just something that has stayed with me since leaving the profession. When asked do I miss medicine, it’s the conversations with patients that I remember with fondness. It’s explaining and reassuring. It’s helping a woman understand her own body – something school biology never achieved. I can’t tell you how many women walked out of clinics in the Liverpool and Manchester areas with my hastily drawn sketches of the reproductive system or the foetus in the uterus!
As a coach I have had to work hard to stop my ‘problem solving’ and ‘fixing’ traits which are a hangover from my days as a doctor. But I will never stop being the person who offers information. And I love doing that in training sessions and in group work.
“You don’t know what you don’t know” – this applies to all of us. I don’t have all the answers, but I’ve realised that I’ve amassed lots of information that many women just don’t know – through no fault of their own. Some of it is health-related, and some is more general well-being and personal development, such as coping strategies, resilience and confidence, assertiveness and leadership. These are some of the topics I talk about in training sessions and group coaching programmes.
I like to put the information out there for you and then it’s up to you which pieces are relevant and relatable in your own life experience. There is no prescription, no doctor’s orders – you don’t have to take any of my advice or suggestions. But when I see a client take information on board, and create positive change for herself as a result, that’s better than taking a ‘tonic’ (as my grandma would say!).
In my new group programme “More Like Myself” I will be offering loads of really useful information. Some of it will help you find your way back to being the ‘you’ that’s maybe got a little lost over time. But I think the magic ingredient in this course will be the other women, because I know they will all bring their own wisdom borne out of different experiences and this will provide even more information to empower you to make choices, take decisions and create changes.
Women together in a safe, supportive and collaborative environment with the opportunity to become better informed – what’s not to like? We’re starting on 19th July and there’s a fantastic introductory offer.