“When Doctors Grieve” Essay Questions

1. What is the main argument (claim)?
The main argument in the study is to ascertain whether doctors and oncologists in particular experience feelings of grief following their patient’s death. The study ascertained that oncologists found it difficult to manage their grief and in most cases hid their feelings from the public eye which in turn had several consequences on their professional and personal lives.

2. What is the support (grounds) for the argument?
The study recruited 20 oncologists from varying ages, gender, and ethnicity with a wide range of experience as oncologists. Based on the interviews conducted with these doctors the study supported the argument that doctors also experience grief and in an attempt to hide their feelings they experience several unwarranted consequences such as failure, self-doubt, powerlessness, guilt, lack of sleep, inattentiveness, impatience, irritable mood, and emotional and physical exhaustion.

3. What is the warranty? (This may not be stated explicitly.)
The warrant behind the study was to bring to light the plight of oncologists who deal with end-of-life patients and their grief following a patient’s death. Their emotions can be critical for the treatment of other patients, henceforth the study has focused on this issue.

4. How is grief viewed in the medical context?
The medical fraternity generally views grieving by doctors as shameful and unprofessional. As it is considered as a sign of weakness, doctors tend to hide their emotions.

5. How does the physician’s discomfort from their grief affect their duties?
Physicians tend to experience varying forms of emotions following a patient’s death ranging from feelings of sadness, guilt, failure, self-doubt, and lack of sleep. In addition to these the hidden emotions also come in the way of their professional life as doctors may become inattentive, irritable, impatient, and show signs of emotional drain. All these feelings have also affected the treatments afforded to their subsequent patients as found in the study. Many doctors have acknowledged having used aggressive treatment strategies and prescribed continued treatment for their patients in an attempt to prevent another death. However, when such treatments are afforded even in the most futile cases it can result in an enormous financial burden on the patient and eventually on the healthcare budget of the government.

6. Graneks writes, “no one wants their doctor to be walking around openly grief-stricken” Does this seem true? Why or why not?
This is true in the case of a doctor’s profession as they are regarded as a source of strength and as a life-giver by their patients and other surrounding individuals. Patients and their families will not be comfortable seeing their doctors grieve in the open as they look up to them and revere their work. When doctors break down in the open it could affect their patient’s trust in their work and could affect their professional image. As a doctor, it would be difficult to regain their patient’s trust and in most cases, they would only stand to lose their patients.

7. What solutions does Granek propose?
While the commitment of doctors and oncologists in particular towards their patients cannot be argued upon, it should also be borne in mind that when doctors deal with end-of-life issues there is bound to be feelings of grief and discomfort. As indicated by the research study such feelings tend to have negative consequences on both the professional and personal lives of these doctors.
As a solution to this issue, Granek proposes that adequate training needs to be afforded to medical professionals which would help them deal with the grief in the right manner. In addition, death should be viewed as a natural life process in medical settings. These changes will help in improving the quality of life of doctors.

 

Reference
Granek, L. (2012). When Doctors Grieve. The New York Times.