Frustrated with your doctor? Feel like your concerns are being minimized or dismissed altogether? Want a do over?
As a ‘professional’ patient, I have had hits, wins and losses as well as rare second chances. The playing field has been my greatest teacher.
First impressions aren’t always spot on
Both doctors and patients make snap judgments (rookie move). Yesterday was a reminder. A specialist I first saw one year ago came across as close-minded and dismissive. He has since proven to be open, communicative and attentive. It took time to gel.
Preparation is key
Whether it’s the World Series or a job interview you don’t show up unprepared, right?
- Know what you want to get out of your appointment.
- Organize and bring your medical records, any test results, a list of medications.
- Write down your top 3-5 questions/concerns.
The doctor has a narrow window to review your information, ask questions and address your concerns.
Good communication is paramount
Effective communication means both parties are heard with clear understanding in an open, respectful manner. At the start of your appointment relay that you have questions and ask the doctor’s preference for the best time to go over them.
Be clear, concise and specific when describing your symptoms.
Ex: “I feel a stabbing pain in the middle of my back. It began three weeks ago when I was moving furniture. Walking reduces my discomfort, sitting increase it.”
If confused or dissatisfied with what transpired (or didn’t) during your visit, say so. Ask for clarification, use open-ended questions to encourage an introspective response, and articulate your request.
Ex: What led you to this conclusion? How effective do you feel this treatment will be versus ___?
Ex: I am still concerned about my health, something isn’t adding up, I’d like you to reconsider ___. I understand the diagnostic test was inconclusive, if my symptoms persist, I’d like it repeated in two months.
Play to your strengths
Are you a critical thinker, up on the latest research? I excel at building relationships so I use that to my benefit.
Sometimes you need a pinch hitter
Not on your A-game, need to hit the bench? … let someone else go to bat for you. Bring along a trusted friend, family member or health advocate to help you navigate the conversation and offer support.
Bad calls can be reversed
I once had a mark on my skin I thought might be Melanoma (it wasn’t my first one) so I requested a biopsy. The Dermatologist declined saying it wasn’t anything to worry about. I pressed on, he acquiesced; it was a malignancy. He humbly apologized and thanked me for speaking up.
Challenge the call!
“It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over”
The infamous baseball manager Yogi Berra and smooth musician Lenny Kravitz Nailed It!.
- Where do you get most stuck when engaged with the medical world?
- What has helped you navigate?