What Doctors Feel by Danielle Ofri


15998346Physicians are assumed to be objective, rational beings, easily able to detach as they guide patients and families through some of life’s most challenging moments. But doctors’ emotional responses to the life-and-death dramas of everyday practice have a profound impact on medical care. And while much has been written about the minds and methods of the medical professionals who save our lives, precious little has been said about their emotions. In What Doctors Feel, Dr. Danielle Ofri has taken on the task of dissecting the hidden emotional responses of doctors, and how these directly influence patients.

How do the stresses of medical life—from paperwork to grueling hours to lawsuits to facing death—affect the medical care that doctors can offer their patients? Digging deep into the lives of doctors, Ofri examines the daunting range of emotions—shame, anger, empathy, frustration, hope, pride, occasionally despair, and sometimes even love—that permeate the contemporary doctor-patient connection. Drawing on scientific studies, including some surprising research, Dr. Danielle Ofri offers up an unflinching look at the impact of emotions on health care.


A wonderful book for doctors, doctor wannabes, and anyone else involved in medicine. Ofri’s writing is conversational yet solid, assured yet honest about her misgivings and failings. Each chapter covers an emotion doctors deal with on a near-daily basis, from empathy and fear to sadness and shame. Good practices are shared and celebrated while less than ideal situations are analyzed and solutions proposed.

There are lots of amazing quotes that will guide me as an interpreter. I’m just starting in the field and, like a newly minted doctor, fear making a mistake that can hurt or kill someone. Some fear is good, of course, but too much and you lock up, avoiding any kind of decision so you don’t choose the wrong one. As Ofri says,

Being a doctor means living with that fear, incorporating it into one’s daily life… figuring out how to titrate it appropriately is a vital skill for a doctor.

Highly recommended for pre-med and medical students and anyone else who would like to examine what role their (figurative) heart has in patient care.

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