All too often, media portrays the relationship between patients and doctors as a hostile negotiation, ignoring the existence of wonderful doctor-patient relationships. We recently asked doctors on SERMO about one element of their great relationships – homemade gifts they’ve received from patients. These tokens from grateful patients impact physicians more than one may expect, and doctors came together to share their best recollections:
“I got a handmade coat of arms wall hanging in different woods as well as a handmade desk nameplate from an elderly gentleman whose retirement hobby was woodworking – that was during residency 30 years ago – still have and cherish them.” – Emergency Medicine
“Heading to med school, I got a cassette-tape of verbal well-wishing and singing from a group of SPME (Seriously and Persistently Mentally Ill) psych-clinic patients I had worked with during college summers. Touching.” – Radiology
“I got a set of handkerchiefs once from a patient who could barely find money for her next meal. I still have them, untouched (except for my heart), for the last 20 years. More moving to me than anything else I ever received.”- Emergency Medicine
“I was given a handmade chair for a child, from a patient who knows I have a young daughter. The bark of the tree is still on the struts and uprights, giving it an unusual and beautiful finish. Interestingly he is a man with substantial OCD symptoms. They were very disabling, and are worse indoors. It seems to relate back to when his wife died, as his symptoms became much worse after that. I strongly encouraged him to keep active outside – building and making things; maintaining his property’s exterior etc etc. He took it to heart and made the chair for me” – General Practice
“A patient who was losing her vision from macular degeneration gave me a beautiful oil painting she painted herself. She told me it would be her last painting because due to deteriorating eye sight, she has to give up painting”- Ophthalmology
These cases are exceptional because doctors don’t expect gifts – even for saving a woman’s life in a restaurant, most doctors agreed that “thank you” was all they would hope for. To all the doctors who haven’t heard it yet today, thank you for all that you do!
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