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View from the Other Side of the Stethoscope

June 10, 2015 Announcement in Oncology Times:

ASHPE award crop


In December 2005, Dr. Harpham was invited by Serena Stockwell, editor at Oncology Times, to write a column for professionals. Under the banner, “View from the Other Side of the Stethoscope,” Dr. Harpham’s writing received the 2007 Silver Medal from American Society of Healthcare Publications, category “Regular Column-contributed.” Over the years, the “View” column has developed a loyal following of readers.

Each column grapples with one common yet rarely-discussed patient dilemma, such as the problem of false alarms or the difficulty of finding hope in the setting of incurable disease. Dr. Harpham offers insight into the dynamics behind each problem and concludes with suggestions for her colleagues in oncology. She often offers examples of healing words and actions that may take clinicians only seconds to say or do yet can make a world of difference for patients.

While addressed to professionals, “View from the Other Side of the Stethoscope”articles have been circulating among patients. Survivors and their families appreciate the intimate view of the challenges and frustrations their doctors and nurses face. The stories and advice help non-medical readers reflect on their life as a patient. Most importantly, these essays open patients’ eyes to new opportunities for hope and healing. In the past few years, a few columns per year are addressed to patients, so clinicians can use them as patient handouts (see samples, below). 

All the Oncology Times columns may be accessed at View From the Other Side of the Stethoscope  A select few are listed below. 

Time Savers 
The demands of modern medicine are putting the squeeze on clinicians' time. By finding creative time savers for clinicians and promoting a culture that values the time needed for high-quality care, we can preserve compassion and help patients get good care and live as fully as possible.

The Medicine of Grief 
Some patients need to grieve periodically throughout their survivorship, even if cured of cancer. A first step is distinguishing persistent sadness due to complicated or prolonged grief that needs to end and sadness due instead to obstructed grief that needs a jumpstart.

Patient Handout—Honoring Grief 
loss related to changes in your roles, relationships, hopes, and expectations.

Distressing Decisions
Compassionate care involves not only providing expert information and recommendations, but also ensuring that patients can hear and process what you tell them. By wrapping facts and recommendations in words of comfort and inspiration, you enable patients to work their way to the best decision for them. 

Harpham, Wendy S.