Wit Reflection Paper
When stricken with a severe illness like Stage IV metastatic ovarian cancer, you would expect health care providers to be compassionate, and to share information regarding the patients care. In the movie Wit, by Mike Nichols, you experience the complete opposite as Dr. Vivian Bearing, played by Emma Thompson, is subjected to experimental treatment while being treated callously by many of the health care staff.
From the opening scene, you get to experience the cold interaction between Dr. Bearing and Dr. Kelekian, her oncologist. Before Dr. Bearing can absorb the news she just received, the doctor is already explaining an experimental treatment that she will undergo without giving any other options. His demeanor is emotionless and very businesslike while he explained the grim outlook unless she excepted his plan of treatment. We learn in nursing, that all options for treatment should be given to the patient, as they are the final decision makers. After receiving such startling news, the patient should have time to absorb the information she received, and to ask questions regarding diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis.
The majority of that interactions Dr. Bearing encountered revolved around answering yes or no questions in a checklist manner, and being asked, “How do you feel?” The main character feels objectified as a research project and nothing else. You can see her loneliness as no one comes to visit her except for the end. It’s important to dive into more important questions and get to know the patient for who they are, an actual person. Interpersonal relationships are built and quality care is provided. Dr. Posner, a resident under Dr. Kelekian and former student of Dr. Bearing, has no emotional attachment to the patient and only asks how she’s feeling and checks the input and output sheets, complaining all the while. Even when Dr. Bearing is in excruciating pain laying in a fetal position on the bed, he doesn’t say a word to try and comfort her, he just leaves the room. There is a disconnect between provider and patient.
Another seen that comes to mind is when Dr. Posner enters the room with other residents and Dr. Kelekian, and pulls up Dr. Bearings gown without her permission. With no regard for her, he pulls up the gown and starts to describe what procedure was done, what was removed, and what type of therapy she is receiving. Dr. Bearing feels like she’s invisible. She described it best when she stated that they just care in the celebrity acclaim they’ll receive for writing their journals on the experience of treating this her. She became numb to the world because of how she was treated. Dr. Bearing said that the pain she felt, let her know she was alive.
This movie is a prime example of how not to treat patients. Wit is a movie every health care professional should see and learn from. We treat patients in a holistic manner and we cannot forget who they are, people first. We all crave meaningful interactions and feeling wanted. Bringing awareness to the problem can help us create a solution.