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A Piece of My Mind
April 4, 2017

The Prescriptions I Write

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Family Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
JAMA. 2017;317(13):1315-1316. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.16796

I write prescriptions most days in my work as a family physician. These prescriptions are often for commonly used medications, such as antihypertensives, antibiotics, and antiglycemics. Writing the prescription is a small part of what happens between a physician and a patient. Recently, I have started to write a different type of prescription. In some situations, these unconventional prescriptions may be as important, if not more important, as traditional prescriptions.

I sat listening to Anita (not her real name), a 50-something woman from the Caribbean. She works as the head nurse in an acute geriatric ward at a busy general hospital. She has two grown children living in Toronto; she is also the union representative and loves her work. She has an elderly mother who has early dementia. Five of her relatives have died in the last three years. Everyone looks to her to be strong and sane, everyone looks to her for support—she has been busy flying back and forth to the Caribbean to take care of her extended family.