I went to see my doctor last week for my annual physical and it was the best half hour I’d spent all week. He made me feel welcome, he listened to everything I had to say and made me feel like I was a well informed and intelligent patient. He threw in some stories and jokes for good measure. It was a great experience. How many of us can say that about every doctor’s visit?
Bedside manner is not something they teach in medical school but it’s one of the most important tools for a doctor to have. We are now living in the days of insurance mandated speed dating-type doctor visits and while they may be good for the bottom line they are rarely good for patients.
That’s why I love my primary care physician, Dr. Flores. He’s not only a great doctor, he’s warm and caring, he always greets me with a smile and he makes me feel like he has all day just for lil’ ol’ me if I need it. I can’t remember ever having a doctor spend as much time with me as he does and I feel like he wants to make sure all my questions are answered and that nothing has been overlooked about my health.
His friendly nature and his attitude that nothing is off limits and no question is stupid make me feel comfortable addressing any issues I may have, even if they are embarrassing. To me this is an example of a great doctor.
As we debate changes in health care and whether or not the government should be involved (beyond MediCare, of course) we should take the opportunity to also remember the importance of a good bedside manner and encourage medical schools to teach it.
And we must remember to thank our doctors who possess it. I think it’s a key component to good healthcare because when your doctor makes you feel rushed or as if he or she has better things to do than attend to your needs you are more likely to get flustered, forget to mention certain pains or ailments because they might be nothing. And sometimes those little probably-nothings turn out to be big things and the sooner you get help for them the better off you’ll be. So a doctor with good bedside manner truly is a lifesaver.
I’ve had these ‘too busy for you’ doctors and I usually quit seeing them pretty quickly. They make me appreciate Dr. Flores and other doctors like him all the more for realizing that it’s not enough to know the science, you have to understand the humanity behind the practice of medicine as well.
And it goes back to what I talked about last week: It’s nice to be nice.