On [Trying To] Being A Doctor You Want to Go To…

Every so often I read posts or hear stories about people going to doctors that they loathe.  It seems many distrust or fear our medical system, particularly allopathic doctors (MDs vs DOs, chiropractors, naturopaths, etc). I read about about endless tests and no answers. About frustration and feeling unheard. About being sent to many different specialists. About the high cost of insurance premiums and co-pays.

In truth, these stories terrify me because I’m afraid one day I’ll be “that doctor.”

I’m afraid that people will think I didn’t listen to them. That I brushed off their problems and only filtered what I wanted to hear so I could give them “x” medication and send them on their way. That I made them feel helpless or frustrated. That I didn’t take good care of them.

Practicing medicine is just that, a practice. It is both art and science, a tenuous balance between evidence based medicine and intuition through experience and maybe a dash of innovation thrown in here or there.

It seems much of the training to become a practicing physician is callousing. But, I hope it doesn’t callous me. I hope I remember that one of my main motivations in becoming a doctor is being a good listener and helper,  just like I was told to be in kindergarten.   To use my knowledge and resources to help figure out problems.

I realize that my perception of medicine at the moment is a bit “white knight”-ish. There will be patients that won’t like me for whatever reason, that will be frustrated with me, that might switch to another doctor. But, my idealistic part of me hopes that doesn’t come true, at least not often.

I guess I’m just afraid that the long hours and arduous training will make me a less kind person. But, only time will tell. I hope not. I sometimes remind myself to “be the sunshine.” Its very silly, but it reminds me to keep my intrinsic happy nature (most of the time) from being subdued.

TELL ME: WHAT QUALITIES DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A DOCTOR? WHY HAVE YOU LIKED SOME DOCTORS AND WHY HAVE YOU NOT LIKED OTHERS? WHAT WOULD YOU WANT TO TELL YOUNG DOCTORS IN TRAINING?

Until next time…

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13 thoughts on “On [Trying To] Being A Doctor You Want to Go To…

  1. If you can be like the last Dr in this story, you will have a great career and patient base. mountainfamilyadventures.wordpress.com/2013/03/20/following-your-gut-and-challenging-your-doctors/

  2. I agree with Rachel. I’ve seen so many doctors that I was not pleased with and my number one complaint is the feeling that they think they are superior because they are the doctor. In general I trust doctors and try to assume the best of them. Given your specialty I doubt you will have many patients who switch to another doctor. Although one time my gynecologist told me that since my dad had prostate cancer that I could possibly get it. She was serious and I found a new doctor

  3. Hi Meggie,

    I love your insight and the way you are humbly approaching an amazing career in which I am sure you will be fabulous. And the possibility of delivering the babies of your friends? For them it will be such a comfort, having you for their doctor! Good luck and God Bless!

  4. Honestly, I try to stay out of the doctor’s office as much as possible. I fear needles and the awkward poking, deep breathing, etc. What I really love in my gyno (the only person I do visit regularly) is that she is open and honest. She asks how I am doing, how the medicine is working, acts like I am a regular friend and not just someone she is going to spend 2 minutes with and move on. On one issue I mentioned to her, I loved that she was very honest with “I don’t know what that could be but come back and we can figure it out together”.

    What I hate… I went to a doctor once who came in with her laptop and just put my symptoms into her computer and ran a test. She didn’t check me out, poke around, ask me to deep breathes…I could have gone to webmd without the copay.

  5. Meggie I think you are going to be a wonderful physician. You have a great personality and you genuinely care for people. That goes along way. You are just so personable, I don’t know how anyone could not like you! I wouldn’t worry about being “that” doctor because I think that you will be the polar opposite!

  6. As someone who, as you know, currently loathes most doctors and medical institutions, this post gave me such a warm, fuzzy feeling.

    Meggie, based on everything you’ve written here, it’s clear you’re going to be an incredible, kind doctor. You have a good heart and based on what you’ve written about your Journey to MD Land, you got into this field for all the right reasons. You’re going to be amazing and I am so excited for your journey ahead.

    I can’t wait for you to deliver my babies. We’ll play “Dance Moms” in the delivery room! And then you can yell Abby Lee-esque obscenities at ME! “Push! Your baby is replaceable!!!” Maybe not.

  7. I actually love my doctor. She actually takes the time to talk with you before prescribing things. She does er on the side of caution, meaning I leave her office with a handful of referrals to have things “checked out”.

    Meggie, you are going to be fantastic because you care enough to be concerned. You seem to take a great interest in others and that alone will propel you forward and help to make you the doctor people WANT to see.

  8. Um yes, all of this. I actually do not like my current obgyn. I told her about how my mom had trouble conceiving and how I worry that down the line (DEFINITELY NOT NOW) this would be a problem with me. And she was like “That should not be one of your worries.” WELL, guess what, it is, and her saying that does not really change that. My appointment with her was about 10 minutes. I just didn’t really feel like she cared, all she wanted to do was go pay attention to other patients.

    I think for me, I just need to remind myself to listen to my patients as much as I can. I also want to find a mentor who has really awesome bedside manner, and CLING to that person in the sense where they rub off on me.

  9. I think that many of the frustrations with the medical world these days is that we live in an “I want it NOW” society where people wants answers and they want the right ones…right away. As you said, medicine is both an art and a science, and it’s really all a game to figure out exactly what’s wrong and what will work to fix it. And sometimes what usually works doesn’t. And people don’t like that. It’s a little funny to me that people will use WebMD or something to look up their symptoms, but don’t like when their doctor does. That they get upset when they have a million tests done (algorithms! flowsheets! Don’t you dare say you have chest pain and then get angry when I do an EKG and troponins x 3!), but would rather not have all the tests done…but would be upset if the doctor missed something.

    I have no idea what I’m talking about.

    I haven’t been around the medical world long enough to really know this, but I think patients are frustrated that they don’t SEE their doctor enough. Our doctors hardly even go in the room at all. When rounding, they might not even look at the patient. There’s a lot of behind the scenes work that people don’t understand, and much treatment is done by looking at numbers and charts. This is probably frustrating, and I understand why. Other times, people think something is an OMG HUGE DEAL (the patient coughed, DO SOMETHING!!), but as an experienced, trained person…I know it’s not a problem at all. But people tend to over think a lot and then think you just don’t care.

    I’m babbling.

    I will say that when my doctor diagnosed me with (subclinical!) hypothyroidism, he immediately followed that by saying, “It’s not really a problem, it just might cause fertility problems in the future if we don’t treat it.” Ummm….telling a 27 year very single woman that she might have fertility problem IS a big deal. I proceeded to google and freak out. I think we’ll be okay.

    Overall, I think people just want to be heard, have a personable doctor who seems to care, and to get their treatment ASAP. Which I don’t blame them for, but that’s not always how it works.

    Sorry for the rambling, I guess you hit a spot…

  10. I think being a good listener and telling people what to expect (“we don’t know what this is yet but here are the next things we are going to do to figure it out”) goes a long way…..and one other big peeve of mine — be on time, or if you aren’t running on time, let the patient know, be honest about it. Use email/text/phone if possible or be clear while the patient is in the waiting room. I had a wonderful ob/gyn who delivered my 8 year old daughter, she was about 10 years older than me and I really related to her – but I finally stopped going there about 3 years ago because I would spend 45 min to an hour or more sitting in the waiting room while waiting for my annual exam. It happened repeatedly for a few years in a row so I finally switched practices. My new ob/gyn is a young woman who I also really like. I was having lots of issues which turned out to be IUD hormone related – she was open to that possibility, worked with my GP to send me for lots of other tests to help rule out other issues, and then acknowledged it was possible and took it out. I’m now 10 lbs lighter, no longer bloated and having digestive issues, cysts, etc. Glad she was open to listening and acting and taking me seriously….

  11. I want to be respected and treated as if I had a brain.

    I have a heart condition and my cardiologist is one of my favourite doctors ever. He’s kind and calm (when I rocked up one morning telling him I thought I’d had a heart attack, he even managed not to smile but to calmly reassure me and check it out).
    He also doesn’t flinch when I tell him I run regularly and do half-marathons. I know that if he told me not to run, he wouldn’t be just saying it because that’s ‘the done thing’ but because he genuinely would be concerned.
    And when I asked him something specific, he was incredibly thorough and asked about 20 colleagues their opinion, and then gave me both sides of the answer and told me he frankly didn’t know the right course of action but told me what he would advise his wife. I can’t ask more than that!

  12. just from this post alone, sounds like you will be a fabulous doctor. i was in pharm sales for 5 years (and now sell products to physicians to sell to patients instead, so still in the community) and hated the way some of those docs treated me. They treated me like scum-and I worried they treated their patients that way. Remember that reps are human too-even if you don’t have time for them-just politely tell them so. As a patient, I just want docs to take the time I derserve. Answer my questions, be thorough. My IM doc actually writes a handwritten note with my physical results and mails it to me.

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