The importance of a good doctor-patient relationship is an oft-repeated subject and often takes centre stage in discussions concerning what determines the quality level of healthcare services. However, the rapport between health professionals themselves is a matter that deserves to be highlighted as well.

Unique set of challenges

The importance of the doctor-doctor relationship cannot be overstated since working in the medical practice involves a unique set of challenges and circumstances that may not be present in other career fields.

For many doctors, stress and burnout are things that are all too familiar. Although factors such as long hours and fatigue are typically known to contribute to these conditions, we simply cannot deny that one of the many underlying issues is unhealthy or dysfunctional communication at the workplace. Communication that is void of respect – use of derogatory words and rude remarks, for instance – is detrimental to the relationship between doctors. Therefore, it is vital to create an environment that promotes kindness, tolerance and mutual respect.

When doctors argue…

Disagreements happen, but they should not reach the extent of harming each other verbally or emotionally during arguments. This would only result in an atmosphere that is filled with resentment and hostility which would affect how well a doctor performs his or her tasks. Eventually, this could jeopardize the best interest of the patients, however unintentionally. Any conflict or dispute should be handled in a professional manner so that the issues would not work their way down to a doctor’s primary role to provide the best care for patients.

Perhaps it is not an exaggeration to say that good camaraderie between doctors is the epitome of genuine collaboration in the medical practice. Despite having different approaches and understanding in tackling various matters, doctors should foster improvement by encouraging each other, especially those who are less experienced. In the context of an organization, the existence of bullying culture is usually associated with hierarchy and seniority. At one point or another, a senior doctor may have to deal with juniors who lack proper clinical training, for instance. Blaming them and making them feel less competent - even worse when this happens in the presence of other staff - would only foster deep resentment.

Rather than shunning it altogether and deeming it as far less significant than the doctor-patient relationship, this matter should be acknowledged in order to find a solution. Ways to resolve conflict are important to be addressed, but even more important is how to prevent those conflicts from occurring in the first place.

The attitude of healthcare professionals is the cornerstone of providing high quality services to patients. When arrogance, antipathy and prejudice are manifested in the healthcare domain, it would eventually hurt the medical community. Negative sentiments and attitude often breed misunderstandings and intolerance. On the other hand, warmth in personality and character as well as amiability towards fellow colleagues would bring about the realization of a shared purpose and ultimately encourage better work practices. MIMS

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