Sydney Medical School “talks with doctors”

At a free public talk hosted by the University of Sydney last week, Professor Stewart Dunn from the university’s Sydney Medical School presented “Talking with doctors – views from both sides.”

Sydney Medical School
Find out more about the Sydney MD
Professor Stewart Dunn has spent more than 30 years studying the relationships between doctors and their patients.
Particularly, how they communicate and share information, and how they manage the emotional trauma involved in serious illness.

“Medical knowledge is expanding faster than our ability to assimilate and apply it effectively,” he said.”Thanks to the internet, there is a significant expansion in the information that patients can bring to consultations with their doctors.

The Sydney Medical School professor added that considering these changes, it is important to study how patients and doctors can talk meaningfully to each other when the emotional stakes are often very high and information exchange becomes a minefield.

The lecture examined the research about how doctors deal with the emotional side of medicine, especially how they cope with people at extremely vulnerable times in their lives, the Sydney Medical School professor explained.

Professor Dunn said identifying and being upfront about emotional concerns, especially in the case of cancer, is a better approach for both patients and doctors.

“We studied a group of 400 cancer patients who discussed their emotional concerns first, and it worked better for both patient and doctor,” he said.

Professor Dunn addressed a number of topics including
  • What are doctors like as human beings?
  • Why do they choose medicine as a career?
  • Do they change through their careers?
  • How do they think about us as patients?
  •  How do they feel about us as patients?
  •  Do they listen? Do they hear us? Do they care?
  • How can we talk to them?
  • Key things for patients to get the most out of their medical consultation.

    The talk was the seventh in a series of medicine lectures entitled “21st Century Medicine Lecture Series: today’s research, tomorrow’s healthcare,” which were hosted by the university every Wednesday until the end of November.

    About Professor Dunn
    Stewart Dunn is Professor of Psychological Medicine in Sydney Medical School – Northern and Associate Dean for Admissions. He is based at Royal North Shore Hospital, and is Visiting Medical Psychologist at the Mater Hospital.

    He has extensive teaching commitments in the Sydney Medical School program and his clinical specialty is psychological care of cancer patients and their families. He has published widely in psychological aspects of medical illness and doctor-patient communication, and he has received nine research travel awards and seven teaching awards including the Sydney Medical School Outstanding Teaching Award in 2005 and PaLMS Excellence in Clinical Teaching Award in 2008.

     Sydney Medical School’s Doctor of Medicine

    The Doctor of Medicine program is a four-year professional postgraduate entry course with three primary aims for graduates: excellent clinical skills and preparedness for practice; experience in research; and experience and awareness of health in an international setting.

    Program: Doctor of Medicine (MD)
    Location: Sydney, New South Wales (Camperdown/Darlington campus)
    Semester intake: February
    Duration: 4 years

    Applications for the 2014 intake are closed. While application timelines for the 2015 intake are not yet available, it is expected they will be similar to previous intakes.


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