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Tag Archives: health care issues

How the Pressures of Professionalism Birthed the Depersonalized Doctor

Doctors have the difficult, yet necessary, job of saving lives. Doctors are often admired and respected. It’s understood that a doctor is responsible for the wellness of others, but who focuses on the wellness of a doctor? There are a lot of pressures surrounding being a doctor. It can affect the doctor, his or her peers, and the doctor’s patients. The general need to uphold professionalism has isolated doctors and even damaged the doctor-patient bond. To hear more information regarding this dilemma and potential solution, we invite you to read this article.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu

A visit to the doctor’s office can be nerve-racking for the doctor and the patient. We know why patients are nervous about a doctor’s visit, but what could cause a doctor to have such an experience? The answer is the pressure to be a perfect, emotionless, depersonalized doctor. How well a doctor can follow those guidelines contribute to the image of a successful doctor. This very phenomenon that causes doctors to feel stressed and nervous is also a reason some patients feel negatively about a doctor’s visit. Is there a method that would benefit both the doctor and patient?


Roel van der Heijde and Dirk Deichmann of the University of Pennsylvania’s Knowledge@Wharton journal explore how a depersonalized doctor damages the doctor-patient relationship by focusing on professionalism. Doctors are taught to keep a neutral demeanor when dealing with their patients. This practice is supposed to keep patients calm and prevent doctors from being overwhelmed. This approach proved to do more harm than good. According to van der Heijde and Deichmann, “A number of studies have found that being a strong, silent doctor isn’t good for you. It contributes to depression, burnout, and the added strain of working with colleagues who are suffering in the same way.” There is no research that shows this approach is beneficial to patients either. The depersonalized doctor and their obsession with perfection should be phased out.


Doctors should adopt a new approach where showing more emotion to their peers and patients is normalized. Doctors can implement this by being open, understanding, and empathetic. This approach is beneficial for many reasons. If medical professionals worked in this manner, they would be less stressed and more productive. This new approach would change the stigma behind asking for help or collaborating with peers in a medical setting which could lead to better quality of care. Lastly, this approach will give the patient more control of their health. Instead of telling patients how to treat an issue, doctors should discuss the pros and cons of a treatment and allow the patient to be involved in the decision. The depersonalized doctor is one that does not know much about their patient personally. This is a major issue because a doctor needs to know what the patient needs are to better serve them. For an example, if a patient is looking for holistic approach to the non-life threatening condition they have and the doctor does not acknowledge their preferred approach, then the patient is going to feel negatively about going to see a doctor and may not follow the doctor’s recommendations. 


As so many things change in medicine, our approaches should as well. Showing compassion will not only cause people to lose respect for doctors, it might even make the doctor-patient bond stronger. For more information about the depersonalized doctor, please read the full article on the Knowledge@Wharton website.


One Million Solutions in Health’s priority is sharing health news and finding solutions to issues surrounding health care. To learn more please contact info(at)onemillionsolutionsinhealth.org.