Today I saw an intriguing online article title: Seniors Tell Medical Students What They Need From Doctors. Immediately, I thought “It’s about time!”
I paused my work, read the article, and was inspired by its story. A small group of people in their 90s went to a medical school to teach a class of second-year students. The elders were acknowledged—medical people finally listened. The future doctors were inspired—their teachers were persuasive.
Surely the seniors wondered why their input was necessary—sharing needs with medical providers should happen all the time. Medical encounters are best when they are interactive—listen, talk, listen, talk.
The article reports many of the students expected “a solemn litany of medical problems.” Instead, they heard clear and helpful advice for communicating. The seniors counseled them to answer questions more and tap on computer keys less. They advocated for human conversation. And they wanted the future doctors to remember to look at their patients.
The class emphasized that doctors serve seniors better by investing time in listening to them. It also encouraged the students to consider specializing in gerontology—serving the elderly. This fast growing population needs a tenfold increase in doctors adept at treating their complex health issues.
I take heart knowing seniors are promoting their own medical needs. And it’s encouraging to discover that doctors-in-training have an opportunity to learn from them. Hopefully, these senior-taught classes can become a medical school requirement. Everyone can benefit from it. What do you think about medical school teachers in their 90s?