Engagement with or Witness to Death
A healthcare provider is obligated to establishing an environment that encourages good practices and healthcare for patients. Cancer patients have a high percentage of losing their lives, which makes it a practice an oncologist should come to terms with and understand the different aspects related to death. This includes helping devise the best approaches to find facts and necessary information for the development of a [patient’s] case that allows factual report (Epstein et al., 2017). The most difficult part is when some terminally ill oncology patients have lost all hope especially when they face endless difficulty in performing normal daily activities as they are always weak and tired. The job of an oncologist is particularly challenging as it means having to face a probable death event among his or her patients on a daily basis (Armenian, Lacchetti, & Lenihan, 2016; Smith et al., 2015).
To some point, my experience with death has shaped my views and helped me relate better with my patients. At first, it was difficult for me as a child to deal with death of my family members. However, despite my childhood emotional vulnerabilities, my professional encounter with death has built a different perspective overall as well as developed patient empathy. In the oncology field, cancer is almost synonymous to death. However, by disallowing this primeval fear to dominate the treatment of patients, the oncologist can also facilitate in helping the patients either to build their determination to survive or resolve their end-of-life issues.
Over time, dealing with death becomes easier; however, risk of there is a becoming impassive or disengaged. No training can help one be ready to be associated with death. Nonetheless, being a medical professional requires composure given that patients rely on their expert opinion and care. In addition, other forms of empathetic or psychosocial support are crucial in helping patients and their family members deal with the life or death issues. In turn, the oncologist and the team of caregivers can help terminally ill patients go through their transition to death with dignity.
Armenian, S. H., Lacchetti, C., & Lenihan, D. (2016). Prevention and monitoring of cardiac dysfunction in survivors of adult cancers: American Society of Clinical Oncology clinical practice guideline summary. Journal of Oncology Practice, 13(4), 270-275.
Epstein, R., Duberstein, P., Fenton, J., Fiscella, K., Hoerger, M., Tancredi, D., . . . Kaesberg, P. (2017). Effect of a patient-centered communication intervention on oncologist-patient communication, quality of life, and health care utilization in advanced cancer: The VOICE randomized clinical trial. JAMA Oncology, 3(1), 92-100.
Smith, T. J., Bohlke, K., Lyman, G. H., Carson, K. R., Crawford, J., Cross, S. J., . . . Somlo, G. (2015). Recommendations for the use of WBC growth factors: American Society of Clinical Oncology clinical practice guideline update. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 33(28), 3199-3212.