I’ve felt the need to talk to my doctor about this for a very long time.
Each time I visited the office (8x in the past year) she was hurried and spent little time investigating or digging up information connected to my previous visit. I found this very lax and started to wonder if she even recognised me each time I went in…
(Hmmm…I’ve been here 5 times but she looks vacant and I’m worried she will miss the reoccurring reason I’m here? Surely she knows why I am here? Nope…I’ll have to tell her, again).
Appearances can be deceiving…this bird dropping is actually a very cunning spider.
A doctor can appear to have all the skills on the surface, but may lack the ability to have empathy or take the time to connect with their patient.
It doesn’t take long to figure it out.
In searching for a connection with my doctor, I really felt I was going out on a limb. (Totally just trying to find a reason to add some photos to the post here if that wasn’t obvious by now! ahah).
In short, she was very busy (as most doctors are) taking in many patients every day. The turn around in this clinic is something like 10 minutes. I returned to this office for the convenience of booking an appointment. There was no long wait, and I could always get in if I had an emergency (migraine! She was very good about treating me during a critical migraine earlier in the year). I completely get that you can be busy, but what I didn’t always get was a sense of connection, care, empathy… actually none of that.
It was really starting to put me off, and many times I contemplated going to another doctor who might turn out to care just a little bit more. Even if it was just a fraction.
I liked her. She was never rude or unpleasant… I just didn’t feel that she cared.
So yesterday after my appointment, I paid my bill and gave the receptionist my biological sample and made up my mind to finally talk to my doctor about our relationship.
I delicately knocked on her door. She welcomed me back in and told me to make myself comfortable. So I sat down and we looked each other straight in the eyes. I was nervous to speak as I didn’t want to offend her, I just needed to pass on some feedback.
I began…sooo so nervous.
“I wanted to talk to you about something that’s been bothering me for a while now. (Sure, what is it?) I’ve felt that I’ve had to bring up some of my previous symptoms…(pause) I know you’re very busy but there have been times when I felt you didn’t really care about me as an individual. I know that’s hard given the amount of people you see in a day”
She was a little surprised, but immediately thanked me graciously for telling her and being so honest, and asked how often I felt that way (when I said nearly every time I’d been in) she then asked what she could do to make it better.
She took it really well.
I suggested that she take enough time to look into my case and really connect with me.
“From a clients perspective, I have contemplated not coming back to the office because I’ve not felt that you cared about me. I think that’s really important to have that connection, it keeps people coming back.”
We ended the conversation both smiling. I think this will be the start of a shift in our doctor/patient relationship.
I recently read in a book “Blink” by Malcom Gladwell, that a doctor is many more times likely to be sued by a client whom they do not have a close relationship with. Doctors whom have a trusting relationship with their patient are even less likely to be sued because there is a bond (even if they have done something that actually warrants a court case).
That is information that many doctors could benefit from. Treating people with kindness, empathy and understanding can help create trust and harmony within the relationship. Those things generally will always have people coming back.
Even though it took me ages to talk about what was troubling me, I feel really good knowing I was honest and I can potentially help her really succeed in giving better service to her clientele.
What I think is key for myself, is that before giving up on our relationship I gave her the opportunity to see where things were going wrong. I think it’s fair to give that feedback and see if things can change.