It always makes me smile when I walk into a doctors’ waiting room and find everyone sitting in nervous silence. I find myself wanting to shout “Hey! it’s okay, the doctor won’t bite” but instead I usually end up talking about something mundane like the weather. Anything to break that awful tension in the room.
I’ve never been able to understand why people treat doctors with such reverence. Yes, they are highly qualified professionals who are deserving of our respect but they are also real people who in the main, enjoy having a good rapport with their patients. Think about it – if you had a job where everyone who came to see you was so petrified that they could barely speak, you’d soon tire of having to reassure them before making any progress. A visit to a doctor can be an intimidating experience but only if the patient allows this to happen. I’ve always found it useful to employ humour when appropriate. It’s a great tool for breaking down barriers and getting to the point. It’s important to establish a 2-way conversation so that the consultation is a shared process. Remember, your doctor learns a great deal from what you tell them. If something is said to me that doesn’t quite make sense, I will always question it and if necessary, argue the point. I find that doctors respect when you take an interest and work with them to find the best way forward. The patients who sit in terrified silence throughout a consultation, are really missing out. Of course, bad news is never easy for anyone involved but if a good rapport has been established, then it’s likely to be a little easier to digest.
Doctors are real people with real lives just like you and I. Most of them are under huge day to day pressure, with their busy working lives constantly vying for more time at the cost of their personal lives. They do make mistakes sometimes but they’re only human after all. Show them you care and they’ll respect you for it.
One of the many joys of blogging for me has been the discovery of some great medical blogs written by doctors, nurses and medical students. My favourite ones are on my blogroll where you’ll find medics writing and sharing their everyday lives with anyone who cares to join in. It’s good to see patients, like myself, join the debate as I believe that we have a lot to learn from one another, for the benefit of all.
I’ll finish here by saying that there’s a new blogger on the block who’s making waves with great ideas to sort out the mess within the HSE. Dr. Jane Doe has joined the team of Irish doctors and nurses over at Two Weeks on a Trolley, and she makes for very interesting reading. Our Minister for Health would do well to take note.