Patch Adams, directed by Tom Shadyac, is a film about this concept. It is about a doctor who does recognize the emotional and spiritual needs of patients with physical illnesses, and how he is successful in the medical world despite a lot of opposition. Shadyac compares and contrasts Patch Adams with the other, more traditional doctors portrayed in the film, to show Adams as an ideal doctor, who is breaking new ground with his non-traditional beliefs about the way doctors should interact with their patients.
While there are plenty of good doctors out there who genuinely care for their patients, many people who study medicine are motivated by money. Such people are not necessarily concerned with the needs of their clients. For instance, in Shadyac's movie, a mother is desperate to visit her sick daughter in the hospital room where she is dying. Even though her daughter needs to see a doctor as quickly as possible and her mother wants to be with her to take care of her, hospital policy requires her to finish all the paperwork before her daughter can get proper medical attention. Hospitals often want to make sure that clients have enough money to pay the doctors before they "waste" the time of a physician. People often feel that hospitals and physicians are motivated by money rather than the desire to help people, and for this reason find it difficult to trust their doctor's words. In extreme cases people might see two or three doctors because they find it difficult to trust in them.
In telling the story of Patch Adams, Shadyac challenges this view, portraying Adams as a different kind of doctor. He believes in treating the whole person rather than just their physical symptoms, a view which is very different from the one that most doctors hold. He believes in giving people the best care he has to offer. Shadyac uses the house that Patch Adams built as the symbol for this idea and the focal point of the film. The house that Adams builds is a free hospital, a place where "people will come from all over the world to fulfill their dream of helping others, where learning is the highest aim, where love is the ultimate goal." Adams' hospital is a place where all patients are welcome regardless of how much or how little money they can pay, and it is a house with "with no boss or title."
Another issue that Shadyac examines in Patch Adams is the balance of power in hospitals - how doctors have it, and patients do not. In the small hospital society, the people who have power are defined by their clothes. The people who wear the long white coats have the greatest power and authority. Shadyac shows how physicians use their power by showing what they think of themselves, for example, a doctor in the film says "Physicians are business men. Patients need doctors to give them prescriptions. They don't need doctors to be their friends." This kind of attitude creates a gap between patients and doctors and makes it hard for patients to see doctors as helpful or caring. Patch Adams believes in the absolute opposite of this. He does not take advantage of the fact that he holds more power than his patients do - to him, "power is [when you]see what no one else sees, see what everyone else chooses not to seesee the whole world anew each day." Adams becomes a doctor because he wants