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Medical Students Need Exposure to Chronic Pain Patients


Pain. It permeates every aspect of medicine, crawls into the deepest corners of our practices, sinks its claws in and stays put. Opiates are at the center of a vicious national debate, and our patients are trapped in its clutches. But my thoughts are less on medications, protocols, and procedures and more on how we approach the patient who cries pain. Through everything I have observed, as a caretaker and student physician, I have come to a concerning conclusion: The burden is on the patient to prove his or her pain.

A patient recently repeated a remark made by her previous doctor, who had declared she was not in “that much” pain. My patient’s response was simple: “How do they know how much pain I am in? Only I know how much pain I am in!”

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