Doctors and death

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A Better NHS

“I wish she were dead”

Joy had spent most of her life trying to avoid thinking about death or dying, or anything to do with it, so wishing her own mother was dead was even more unwelcome and intrusive a line of thought than it ought to be. Repelled by anything to do with death, she had tried for the last 40 years to focus her efforts and attention on the living.

Her mother, like her grandmother, her aunt and, she increasingly suspected, her sister, had Alzheimer’s dementia. A few years ago her mother had been found hanging happily upside down from her seat-belt in her upturned mini in the middle of Peterborough. She had written off several cars and smashed the front of Top Shop. It was a wonder no-one, including her, had been killed, but at 4.30am on a Wednesday morning there fortunately weren’t many people about. Her…

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Death and the missing piece of medical school

Great blog, so important to talk about death, to teach about talking about death…Featured Image -- 463

Dying and death confront every new doctor and nurse. In this book excerpt, Atul Gawande asks: Why are we not trained to cope with mortality?

I learned about a lot of things in medical school, but mortality wasn’t one of them. I was given a dry, leathery corpse to dissect in my first term — but that was solely a way to learn about human anatomy. Our textbooks had almost nothing on aging or frailty or dying. How the process unfolds, how people experience the end of their lives and how it affects those around them? That all seemed beside the point. The way we saw it — and the way our professors saw it — the purpose of medical schooling was to teach us how to save lives, not how to tend to their demise.

The one time I remember discussing mortality was during an hour we spent on The…

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