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Doctor's Attitude: How to Relate to Patients?

Updated on March 29, 2012

Being a Good Doctor

Doctor's are often faced with a dilemma in their daily practice. As doctors we prescribe medications to patients from typical fevers to congestive heart failures. The dilemma lies in the fact that doctors may have not used many of these prescribed medications themselves.


As doctors are well aware of the side effects; but do we really have a feel for it. Of course, we know the pharmacology of a drug and how it impacts a patient at a microscopic level and physiological level. We know the receptors on the cells that drugs may inhibit or stimulate to perform its intended function. However, do we really have a grasp of what patients are going through in terms of associating with their particular condition and its many symptoms. As doctors we can only imagine and sympathize.


On the other hand, a diabetic patient can often relate to another diabetic patient more readily. Its very obvious that they share many traits to the condition. Diabetic patients are faced with renal failure down the road. Its inevitable. Similarly, cancer patients are aware of all the side effects of having to take numerous drugs everyday to sustain their life.


Think about any other occupation. Take for instance, a manager at a reputable bank. The manager may be a proud owner of many of the investment and account types that they market to their clients. Similarly, a lady who works at a clothing store surely has many discounts at the store. She must have owned many of the clothes she is selling to customers. There is a certain pride of ownership associated with promoting products that we have actually used personally. It makes the experience more authentic for customers.


However, as doctors we promote drugs that we may have never used. We are only aware of the effects through the theoretical knowledge and practical applications with patients. Sometimes conditions present differently from the routine symptoms. And we have to often rely on patients to assess the severity of a particular progressive condition. It is through patients really that we really develop a feeling for the effects of the drugs we prescribe. For instance, whether a long standing drug is effective or not. Perhaps, the effectiveness of a newly approved drug is tested as well. We are well aware of the emotional and real world side effects through our rapport with patients. We build a sense of ownership towards these medications through feedback from patients. Otherwise, we are only left with only our clinical knowledge as a means of understanding and relating to the drugs we prescribe so often to patients.


As such, being a doctor, we learn from our patients. Its so important for doctors to listen to their patients. You are receiving valuable information about the effectiveness of drugs and the symptoms of particular diseases. These are often the only ways that we can truly understand and relate to a disease process. Of course, some doctors who have a particular medical condition; that a patient has may be able to relate with the everyday difficulties of a patient a lot more. There is a certain ownership associated with a condition for which we take similar medications for. However, for all other conditions, we rely on our delicate relationship with patients. These relationships are important and cannot be fully embraced within a two minute time frame. We have to invest more time with our patients. For a doctor's greatest reward is being a primary care physician. Doctors have to diagnose and treat diseases and conditions in its initial stages before it escalates to a more serious condition. We are the gatekeepers of the health care system.


Doctor's Attitude - Looking for the Positives

Doctor's are often thought to be compassionate souls; always concerned about the well being of their patients. That is true to a certain extent. However, doctors are trained professionals who are on the constant lookout for something that is wrong with their patients. From the moment you walk into their office; doctors look for the negatives. They are looking at your posture, mannerisms, grooming, hygiene, your gait (walk), your shape (obesity), color (rashes, skin tone), facial expressions (depression, anxiety), your educational background, ethnicity (certain groups are more predisposed to certain conditions), and so on.


Though doctor's look for many negatives; its important to emphasize the good things too. Its important for doctors to appreciate patients who take their medications on time, exercise regularly, eat healthy, and otherwise lead healthy and fulfilling lifestyles. Some doctors, who are overly cold towards their patients may find that their patients are not compliant with prescribed medications. They may feel that the doctor does not have their best interest at heart.



Your Reason For Visiting Your Doctor?

Doctor's Question
Translation
What Happened?
Chest pain, cough, sneezing, stomach pain
Where IT Happened?
Do you feel it in your chest? What part of your Chest? Point and show.
What Aggravates or Relieves IT?
Does Sitting down help with chest pain? What helps? What makes it worse?
When did IT Happen?
When did you get the cough? Chest Pain? How Long did it last? How often do you have chest pain (eg. once a day).
Past History
Your age, occupation, sex, lifestyle, habits (smoking, drinking), family history
Any unusual feeling, sensation, etc
Describe pain (sharp pain, dull pain, compressing pain in the chest, unusual color of urine, bleeding when defecating)
Any Medications Taken for Condition?
Did you take drugs for it? Was drugs prescribed? Did you take organic or natural medicine? Using certain ointments or oils?
Medications Taken for Other Conditions?
When did you start taking, how often, how long and for what. Certain symptoms are associated with particular drug use.
Tell Me About Yourself?
What Condition or Disease do you have. Certain drugs are contraindicated for certain diseases

Comments - Doctor's Attitude - How to Relate to Patients?

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    • jeyaramd profile image
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      jeyaramd 5 years ago from Mississauga, Ontario

      Thank you for your kind words. Patients have a lot of faith in doctors. And sometimes, they trust the doctor without doing any prior research. There is an immense amount of trust that goes in the relationship. Its important that as doctors we should never forget that we are serving the public and are there to provide a service. If it takes more time, then by all means, its important to take the time and get a thorough history. Thanks for your wonderful comment.

      As a student doctor, I feel like writing notes to all my patients for teaching me so much. Thanks.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      There are good doctors and bad doctors just as there are good patients and bad patients. You have shown the side of a good, caring doctor, something we don't see enough of today. Too many doctor's are in a hurry and backed by drug company support push the drugs they have been sold or given. It is nice to see that you and others like you are still around. I wrote a hub, which was actually a thank you to a surgeon, because he too was a doctor who cares. Voted this hub up!

    • jeyaramd profile image
      Author

      jeyaramd 5 years ago from Mississauga, Ontario

      That must have been very interesting. I imagine you must have learned a lot. Its great to know how things should be properly done. As doctors, become more experienced they are better at making decisions without going through so many steps. Relating to patient is important. Its tested repeatedly in medical school and during our core exams. Thanks for your wonderful comment.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Some good points about doctors, but I imagine learning how to relate to patients is one aspect of medical school training. As an actor, I'm sometimes recruited to play a patient so the med students can test their bedside manner on me. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • jeyaramd profile image
      Author

      jeyaramd 5 years ago from Mississauga, Ontario

      KrystalD - I am so sorry to hear about your experience in Cairo. Sometimes, cultures are different, and it may have played a role in how they judge patients. However, I believe that you should treat all patients equally and never differentiate your care based on the patient.

      Your relationship with the doctor is important. It should be nurtured. Your doctor should know your social history and details. Its important to remind them of your situation; if you feel that the doctor may have not taken those notes or may not remember your history. It makes a world of difference. Thanks for your comment. Its well appreciated.

    • KrystalD profile image

      KrystalD 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      What a great point of view to represent. I never thought much about how important a doctors experience and "bedside manner" is for a patient. I agree that identification is huge for a paient. My worst experience was going to a doctor (it was in Cairo) and feeling judged. That was pretty humilating. Thank you for sharing your experience. It is quite valuable and interesting :)

    • jeyaramd profile image
      Author

      jeyaramd 5 years ago from Mississauga, Ontario

      Relationships with patients is critical to primary care. Most definitely. However, we have to take into the patients receptiveness to a doctor who may not be as friendly. Sometimes, we have trust in their clinical knowledge and assessment. Though we may not be too fond our personalities.

      However, relationships can be problematic when a doctor seems to diagnose patients without taking time to listen. Although a doctor may have the right diagnosis at hand and the accurate medications to relieve a patients condition. The patient may not be sure of the quality of care and effectiveness of medication; when the patient does not believe the doctor cares or has not heard their situation properly.

      The book you mentioned looks quite interesting. I should give it a read. I haven't read any books pertaining to patients per se. However, a good understanding of the questions that doctors ask will help patients prepare for a doctor's visit. A list of medications is helpful along with past visits and histories. Most diagnosis are based on past history of conditions and diseases, family history, social habits like smoking etc. Having this information in a written format is most helpful.

      Thanks for your question. Your comments are most appreciated. I will definitely let you know if I do come across a great read from a patient's perspective. Thanks again.

    • profile image

      R. J. Lefebvre 5 years ago

      jeyaramd,

      I enjoyed your hub, I don't have an interest in doctoring, but I am interested in fundamental care.

      I can't help thinking that personalities of doctors and patients are the key of curing, how do you see it as a doctor? I enjoyed you hub, I'll check out some of the others. I've read book I could not put down: How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman, M.D. Can you suggest books where patients can learn how to behave and talk in a doctors office?

      Ronnie

    • mvaivata profile image

      mvaivata 5 years ago

      This is a really interesting, and thought-provoking hub. I guess most people don't really consider it, and I imagine, as a doctor, it can be sort of scary. As you said, you cannot truly understand what the patient is experiencing on a first-hand level, so I would guess that it is probably a bit intimidating when starting something just on the market. Thank you for this fascinating hub. I will absolutely be sharing it!