Here on Diabetic Connect, we often share experiences about doctors who we feel connected to as well as those we don’t.
I often talk to people about their relationships with their physicians. I hear stories about really caring, concerned doctors who encourage their patients to talk about what’s going, who ask questions and answer questions, who offer words of encouragement. And I hear about doctors who don’t do any of that, who seemed rushed, and who get annoyed when patients try to get more information or express an opinion.
But then, I talk to a lot of physicians. I have met some really patient-focused doctors who probably have great relationships with their patients. I have met some who are really up on the latest treatments, who are involved in clinical trials, for example, but who don’t have a lot going on in the personality department. I wonder who they interact with their patients, and if patients don’t walk away out of frustration with his/her demeanor but who might also be walking away from a good specialist. And, to be honest, I have met some really nice doctors who, at the same time, didn’t seem to be staying in touch with the latest data and treatments.
To me, it comes down to knowing what you need from your doctor. Expertise? Information? Sure, but what about emotional support? How much of a personal connection do you need with your doctor if you are going to feel confident in his/her ability to treat you?
And as we often discuss, in today’s managed care environment, bedside manner has to take a back seat behind being efficient and moving on to the next patient. That leaves patients having to gather more information on their own, to be more prepared for their appointments to help the doctor make the best use of time while also getting their needs met, and to find other sources for emotional support as well.
To be honest, I sometimes am concerned when patients talk about how they “love” their doctors. I worry that they may not always be as objective as they need to be about the care they are receiving, and how they will react if the doctor doesn’t meet their expectations for emotional support, or if they are somehow placed in the position of having to change to a new doctor due to managed care requirements or a move, or the decide they need someone with different expertise, or a specialist.
I know that when you are facing a chronic condition, that patient-doctor relationship is really important. But I also remind my clients that your doctor is a medical professional and not your best friend. Patients and doctors still need to be able to be direct with each other, and to ask hard questions, and expect straightforward answers. For example, I have talked with patients who needed to see a specialist but were so attached to their current doctor that they were hesitant to form a new relationship, or to otherwise “hurt” their doctor’s feelings.
I am interested in knowing your thoughts and experiences with doctors and their bedside manner.
Where does bedside manner fit in for you in terms of how you relate to your doctor?
How do you define it? What do you look for?
How much lack of bedside manner – however you define it – are you willing to put up with before you move on? What are the trade-offs?
I often ask clients to answer these questions. Sometimes they decide that the bedside manner is so lacking that they are ready to find a new doctor. Others decide that the doctor is so smart and skilled that they are willing to put up with some abruptness.
Where do you weigh in on this? Any stories? Advice?
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