My patients prepared me well

Meagan E Brennan
Med J Aust 2019; 210 (3): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.13003
Published online: 18 February 2019

When doctors become patients, they shouldn't be surprised that the experience is frightening, undignified and disempowering

Stories of doctors experiencing illness are common. Major illness is life‐changing for most people, and the impact on doctors can be particularly profound.1,2,3,4,5 But why do so many doctors seemingly have to experience a life‐threatening illness before they truly develop empathy? Despite years spent caring for patients, why is it that it takes their own illness to realise that being unwell can be frightening and demoralising for the soul as well as wreaking havoc on the body?

  • Meagan E Brennan1,2

  • 1 University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW
  • 2 University of Notre Dame, Sydney, NSW


The inspiration for this article came from a discussion with a group of insightful medical students reflecting on a doctor's illness narrative.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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