1.5.2 Playing doctors, nurses and patients
Activity 7: The doctor role
It is easy to see how junior doctors can see themselves as being the centre of everything. The doctor arrives, decisions are taken, the action begins. Nurses, perhaps cross and impatient about any delay in the doctor’s arrival, will be critical of any failure to take a speedy decision. The doctor learns to act (and it is an act, in the beginning at least) quickly and decisively. The adopted persona of decisiveness becomes convincing, and the doctor rushes onto the wards, makes the necessary decision, and rushes off again, with smaller tasks perhaps left uncommunicated or undone.
(Mackay, 1993, p. 68)
... a continual effort is made to present a united front through which the patient is kept calm and protected. The way the performance is played is that the doctor has the leading role, the nurse acts as the assistant ... The doctor can question a nurse’s actions ... [but] ... if a nurse were to question a doctor in front of a patient, the doctor’s presentation of confidence and competence would be undermined.
(Mackay, 1993, p.112-13)
The above quotes from Mackay’s research on doctors and nurses present a strong idea of the doctor playing a role, with white coat flying and stethoscope dangling with the medical context described in terms of a little play being enacted in the presence of the patient, in which the doctor is omniscient (or all knowing) and everyone else awaits his wisdom. Does this suggest elements of a theatrical play?
Mackay is talking in terms of a little play enacted in the presence of the patient, in which the doctor is omniscient and everyone else awaits his wisdom.