We put much store in freedom of choice, but when it comes to our own medical diagnosis and treatment, are we equipped to make the best decisions? And are healthcare professionals properly prepared to guide us? Alarmingly, oncologist and award-winning writer Ranjana Srivastava says they're not, and people are suffering - even dying - as a result. The internet encourages people to self-diagnose and browse for expensive and often unnecessary specialist attention, while healthcare workers feel bound to provide whatever service a patient requests, even if they know it to be risky, of dubious value, or a delay of the inevitable. And as doctors increasingly specialise, they offer patients only a small part of the puzzle of their health, crucially lacking an overall picture. Srivastava contends that the best medicine should begin with a good chat. But our doctors are often ill-equipped for the task. In her frank and clear-eyed assessment of an unacknowledged crisis, she makes an impassioned case for healthcare training to incorporate effective communication skills alongside advanced medicine.
Dr Ranjana Srivastava was educated in India, the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia. She graduated from Monash University with a first-class honours degree and several awards in medicine. In 2004 she won the prestigious Fulbright Award, which she completed at the University of Chicago. Ranjana is now an oncologist and educator in the Melbourne public hospital system. Ranjana's writing has been featured in Time, The Guardian, The Week, New York Times, The Age and Best Australian Science Writing, and in numerous prestigious medical journals including the New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet. In 2008 her story 'Ode to a Patient' won the Cancer Council Victoria Arts Award for outstanding writing and in 2012 Ranjana won the Nossal Global Health Prize for writing. She has published two books- Tell Me the Truth, which was shortlisted for the NSW Premier's Literary Award, and the warmly received Penguin Special Dying for a Chat, which addresses the lack of communication between doctors and patients. Ranjana lives in Melbourne with her husband and three young children. Dr Ranjana Srivastava's website
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