Day 29: Teach, teach, teach

‘Doctor’ comes from the Latin word ‘docere’, meaning ‘teacher’. ‘Surgery’ comes from the Latin ‘chirurgia’, or Greek ‘kheirourgia’, meaning ‘working with hands’.

I believe as a surgeon I am called to be a teacher who works with my hands.

The primary duty of a doctor/surgeon is to teach. To teach patients how to live better. To teach students the causes and treatments of diseases. To teach nurses how to care for patients. To teach families how to support a patient in need. To teach, teach and teach. You’ve heard it said before, “Give a man a fish, and you’ll feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you’ll feed him for a life time.” And that is true. Caring for one person for a day limits my impact. Teaching how to care for a person will teach the patient, their families, their carers, their nurses, my students, colleagues, and many others the art and science of better living. Teaching is foundational to the legacy of health I will leave with my patients and the doctors after me. Long after I’ve laid down the scalpel, it is my legacy of education that will continue to bear fruits of healthy outcomes. By teaching, I do not mean a transfer of information. No, the photocopier does that. Teaching, to me, is primarily measured by a change of action or behaviour resulting from an educated mind. A life change, like stopping smoking, caring for ear health, vocal hygiene, etc, are the outcomes of my teaching as a doctor. Antibiotics and surgery are just some of my tools. And when I see a non-ENT doctor being good at managing BPPV, otitis externa, chronic rhinosinusitis, salivary stone, etc. then only have I done my duty as an ENT surgeon. Teaching is not focused on the teacher, but the student. Teaching a patient to stop smoking requires a different technique to teaching a medical student the biochemical carcinogenic effects of smoking.

Every moment is a teachable moment. Not a lecture session, but a teachable moment. Be proactive in teaching today. Fulfill your ancient Latin calling as a doctor/teacher.

7 thoughts on “Day 29: Teach, teach, teach

  1. This post is certainly educational and you have taught me a few things I can apply to my practice of Pharmacy. You are so right, as health professionals we do not only diagnose, treat and cure but we are also involved in teaching the patient the means to improve one’s health. As a pharmacist I am heavily involved in educating patients to try to make lifestyle changes from advising on weight loss, stopping smoking to implementing first aid techniques. I also have mentored Pharmacy interns and have advised them on how to counsel listen to them, find out what their needs are, solve their issues and educate them to better themselves, health wise.

    P.s. I came across this article..would be interested in what you think.
    What doctor’s won’t do:


  2. Thanks for every other informative site. The place else could I am getting that type of info written in such an ideal way? I have a venture that I am just now running on, and I have been at the look out for such info.


  3. Great message! As a teacher of deaf and hh children ,I try to educate parents , staff and students about their loss and how it may impact them. It is only through knowledge that we may accept and grow.


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