What do you think? Do you think that a doctor who uses the library is a bad doctor?
Does Using the Medical Library Make You a Bad Doctor?
Recently, I’ve had a lot of questions from people about my job. Most are generally interested (or confused) in what I do, others seem to think that what I do is somehow wrong. They seem to be under the impression that doctors shouldn’t be using the medical library because they should already know everything about medicine (or something like that).
I would just like to clear the air and say that not only is that assumption wrong, it is ridiculous. Do you know absolutely everything there is to know about a specific topic? I didn’t think so. If we don’t hold ourselves to this same ideal, then why should we expect our doctors to?
I understand why people think that by using the library you are basically admitting to being a bad doctor. Because it means you are admitting you don’t know the answer. Some doctors are like that; they refuse to admit they don’t know or that they aren’t sure. Answer me this: would you rather have a doctor that double checked the facts before he did your surgery or just simply guessed once he opened you up?
Yeah, I thought so.
See, that’s my purpose. My job is provide physicians (and nurses/administrators/whoever) with the most up to date and accurate information I can find so that they don’t have to guess. Or, sometimes even worse, do the search themselves.
So when a doctor called earlier this week asking about some complications after a surgery, I didn’t immediately jump to the conclusion that she didn’t know what she was talking about. She had already diagnosed the patient, but since someone’s life was at stake, she wanted to double check her treatment plan before proceeding. Because someone’s life was at stake.
That’s really the key in medical librarianship. More often than not, when I do a search there is a patient whose life is going to be directly impacted by the information I provide to the physician. It is crucial to remember that while I may not have physical contact with patients, my job touches their lives. And my job is to pull together accurate information so physicians can make the best possible diagnosis and treatment plans they can.