How Doctors Face Death and Dying
When it comes to mortality, we are all traveling the same road, even doctors. An intriguing article in The New York Times takes a closer look at how physicians are approaching their own advance care planning, terminal diagnoses and end-of-life decisions. “How Doctors Die: Showing Others the Way,” opens up yet another door into the discussion on the choices that we all will face eventually.
The article features internist Dr. Elizabeth McKinley and her personal journey after learning that her breast cancer had spread to the rest of her body. Choosing hospice over potentially debilitating treatment was a decision she never regretted, as it let her focus on her quality of life in her remaining time with family and friends.
The author also quotes other doctors and finds one common trait: They have better knowledge of what may be ahead because they have witnessed it in their patients. While he cites no evidence that doctors “enjoy a better quality of life before death than the rest of us,” he concludes that they seem better prepared to face the inevitable. That preparation includes documenting their withes through Advance Care Planning. A 2003 study of 765 doctors who had been John Hopkins University medical students found that 64 percent had completed advance care directives, compared to only 47 percent of American adults over 40.
As a nonprofit healthcare provider, Hospice by the Bay is committed to supporting you with resources to help you prepare for the inevitable, including offering free seminars year round that help you complete your own advance care planning. Visit our website calendar to register for an Advance Care Planning Seminar in Marin, San Francisco or Sonoma counties, or call our office near you to ask about having us offer our presentation to your local group, club or organization.