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“Most of my patients check for the cameras when they see me,

but that I can deal with. It’s those patients that come to see specifically because I am on TV – they have actually hunted me down,” he says. Dr Jessen may be able to turn it on for the camera but it is clear

he is uncomfortable with the fame game and all the attention he attracts. The simplest of tasks, such as going to the supermarket, has now become impossible to do without someone showing him a rash in the frozen foods aisle, or giving him a lecture for having something in his basket that isn’t the healthiest of choices. The invasion of privacy card is played a lot by

celebrities but Dr Jessen does have my sympathy. Sure, he could get out of the game if he so chooses, but – unlike many other celebrities – his role is not just to entertain but to inform and inspire. So we should probably leave him alone if we

spot him tucking into a pizza. Us Brits have a reputation for being terribly

‘Most of my patients check for the cameras when they see me’

prudish about, well, just about everything, but just one bad experience with a healthcare worker can make it almost impossible for a patient to talk about their ‘down belows’ or any other equally embarrassing part of their anatomy. Dr Jessen warns

just one ‘off’ day in practice could risk possibly turning a patient off the medical profession for life. “You have to

remember that for you it is patient no 48 in a very long day, but you are nurse number one in a very big life event,” he says. The fact nurses are not

doctors gives them a distinct advantage in getting patients to open up about their embarrassing problems, says Dr Jessen. The key is to say the

difficult words for them. “Patients behave

themselves with nurses in a clinic, they want to

speak correctly but struggle to use medical terms,” he claims. He advises nurses who sees a young lad struggling to say

the word ‘penis’ to say a word that you believe would be the word they would use – such as ‘willy’– to help them get over any embarrassment they feel. The trick is reading your patients – finding out what language

they like to use, how they like to be treated, what they like to be called. This trick is all part of medicine, says Dr Jessen. We are all very shy and awkward when it comes to getting our bits out in private, never mind on camera, so why do so many people do it in front of the nation for Embarrassing Bodies? What we may forget, says Dr Jessen, is that most

of the people we see on the show are desperate for help. They have seen GP after GP and are more than happy to pay the price of showing the most intimate parts of themselves to millions of people with the promise of paid-for treatment. So what embarrasses the seemingly

unshockable Dr Jessen? “Well it must be the time I found a champagne

cork stuck in an old lady during an internal examina- tion,” he recalls. “I had a real moment where I didn’t know what to do. It was like watching a sex scene with your mum. In the end I just held the cork up in the air and said nothing. She was a posh lady, very well spoken and wore a Chanel suit. “She gave me

this wonderful facial expression, like a naughty schoolgirl and simply said ‘oh that will have been Ernest the other week’. It transpired her husband had used a champagne bottle on her in a moment of passion

and neither had realised the

cork had been left behind!” Dr Jessen is emphatic

when it comes to how proud he is of the show and what

Embarassing Bodies has done in terms of prompting people to go to their local practice to check out symptoms or conditions they may have otherwise ignored. He takes

great pride in the fact the show “breaks down the barrier” for patients feeling as if they are wasting a doctor or nurse’s time in visiting general practice. They say nice guys finish last,

but Dr Jessen is proof you don’t need to create a ‘nasty’ media persona to make the grade.

Nursing in Practice March/April 2012 17

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