The Power of the Personal Touch
The good, the bad, and the new normal – how the pandemic has changed things for young ophthalmologists
Henal Javeri | | Opinion
Young ophthalmologists have played – and continue to play – an important role in the pandemic. We have acted as frontline workers, shielding senior consultants, who are at much higher risk of developing a more severe form of COVID-19. And that has given us the chance to see a patient, assess their condition, and come up with a plan of action for managing their condition – all on our own. In a strange way, the pandemic has given us independence and the confidence to reach our own conclusions – but with the comfort of having our mentors by our side.
But it has not all been good. There are certain aspects of the doctor-patient relationships that have suffered over the last few months. There is only a certain amount of connection that you can build with a patient behind a face mask. As a doctor, we want to comfort the patient before the examination even begins – something as simple as patting the patient on the back or shaking their hand. The personal touch cannot be replaced by a virtual medium. For pediatric patients, who can be very apprehensive before an examination, the inability to comfort them can make it difficult to get them to sit still long enough for an examination. I feel this new way of working – that missing personal touch – will take some getting used to.
Perhaps we just have to think of it – and embrace it – as a different form of communication and a different kind of doctor-patient relationship. In any case, it is certainly something that we’re going to have to build on. I am hopeful that, in time, we will form connections again – just in a new way.