The doctor-patient relationship is an important one to examine and discuss. It is perhaps one of the most critical relationships you will have in your life. Essentially since you’re putting your life in their hands and are giving your doctor a lot of power and responsibility. As a result, it is imperative that you jive with your doctor; you need to have a good rapport with them. If you don’t have the confidence in your doctor to be making decisions that could impact your health and life, it is time to make a clean break and find someone new.
Personally, I think finding a good doctor is a lot like dating. You need to get to know the person and determine whether you have the same belief systems. If your visions don’t line up, it is not going to make for a happily ever after story. Don’t waste time building rapport if you are fundamentally different. A good relationship with your doctor is a lifelong partnership, not a one-night stand. You want to grow together over the years and be comfortable turning to them in your time of need. You are putting your trust and faith in this person to look out for your best interests and to make informed and educated decisions.
If you are reading this, you are most likely already working with a particular doctor but perhaps have your reservations about them, specifically, are you getting the best care? Don’t worry; I have some basic questions to help you reflect and determine whether you will be a match for the long-haul or whether it is time to move on.
1. Does your doctor listen to you? This question is vital. Are they really hearing your thoughts and concerns? It is one thing to hear what you said, but it is another to understand what you said. A good doctor will understand your questions and concerns and try to eliminate them.
2. Do they rush you when you are talking? If your doctor talks over you or interrupts you as you are explaining and addressing your concerns, they aren’t a good fit. They aren’t hearing everything you said and are jumping to snap decisions. Every person and their presentation of symptoms are different. Not everyone will react the same way to treatments. Doctors need all of the pieces before they can start assembling the puzzle.
3. Are they dismissive of your symptoms? I can’t stress enough how significant this question is! I had my symptoms dismissed for years by many doctors. It led to a lot of frustration and ineffective care. You know your body better than anyone. You live with it every day; you know when something is wrong or outside what is normal for your system. Don’t let the doctor tell you otherwise. If they poo-poo your symptoms this is an automatic RED FLAG, and you should end this relationship as soon as you can.
4. Are they open to your thoughts and suggestions about alternative treatments? Not everyone is going to respond the same way to specific therapies. Getting the best care means being open to exploring new ideas and options. Health is not one-size-fits-all! Is your doctor open to looking at new treatment options including new drugs, experimental trials, supplements, or holistic options? They usually are unlikely to offer holistic options or suggestions, but unless they know of a reason that trying something would be harmful to you, they should be opening to discussing ideas and helping you make informed choices. When a doctor claims that their traditional treatment is the only thing that will work, it shows that they aren’t really invested in your care or helping you figure out what is BEST FOR YOU!
5. Are they quick to just give you a script for medication? A lot of doctors are quick to give you a prescription for drugs. Is that the best course of action? Are medications the first line of defense? Nowadays, people have so many allergies to medications because doctors overprescribe them. It is important to weight the pros and cons of medications before diving in.
6. How are they with follow-up questions and or concerns? Follow-up is essential! Is your doctor following-up with you to see how you are doing or do you have to call them when there is a problem? Are they accessible when you have a problem or concern? In today’s technological world, most doctors have an online portal system to send them messages, but are they responding in a timely manner? If you are being left in the lurch, fire them now!
7. Do you find yourself holding back? Your behavior during your visit is also very telling. There is a certain level of intimacy that you develop with a doctor. If you find you have to lie, hide things from them or feel uncomfortable sharing certain behaviors, symptoms, or concerns, there is not enough trust to continue together. To treat you properly, they need the whole story not just what you think they should know. Doctors have seen and heard it all, so if you are holding back because you feel embarrassed, try to let that go. If you are censoring things because you don’t trust him or her, or they have reacted in a way that made you feel dismissed or uncomfortable before, it is definitely time for a change.
8. Are they just treating symptoms and not looking to determine the underlying issues? This may be the last question on my list, but this one is certainly one of the most prominent concerns you should have. You will never feel better if you don’t discover what is truly wrong. You need a doctor who is going to explore and figure out the underlying cause of your symptoms. Just treating the symptoms is not enough and may cause them to completely miss the big picture. Your body works as a whole. You are not the sum of your parts and should not be treated that way.
If your doctor isn’t helping you find the answers and solutions, then, in my opinion, they are hurting you, and it is time to break up with them. I have broken up with a number of my doctors, and it has been the best thing I could have done for myself. I know what I am saying might be easier said than done. Trust me I understand. Insurance always complicates your options and in many cases, limits your choices. I get it, however, research what your plan covers and if you can move to another doctor then do it! You shouldn’t settle for a so-so relationship. Your health should be your first priority! You are only given one body, and it is important that you cherish and take care of it. I hope this article helps you get the best care you are entitled to and deserve!