Letters to the Editor

Relationship Between the Patient and the Medical Student


Am Fam Physician. 1998 Oct 15;58(6):1305.

to the editor: I would like to comment on “The Patient/Medical Student Relationship” written by Angelo Volandes for “Resident and Student Voice.”1 The author says that he is afraid that when he becomes a “doctor,” his patients will no longer confide in him in the same way they did while he was a student, and that he will not know his patients as well as he does now. I would like to reassure him that his patients will continue to share the most intimate details of their lives with him if he remains open and approachable. I do not think that age, gender or any external circumstances will affect his ability to know his patients. Some of us have it and some of us don't, although the cultivation of such an attitude is possible.

It is also possible that his mentor had indeed heard the racial slurs of the professor patient, and that may have been part of what he was referring to when he called the patient “priceless.” We don't know whether his mentor shared those views or if he simply realized that this was part of the patient's perspective and knew that he was unlikely to change.


1. Volandes A. The patient/medical student relationship. Am Fam Physician. 1998;57:1693–4.

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This series is coordinated by Kenny Lin, MD, MPH, Associate Deputy Editor for AFP Online.



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