Sunday, April 5, 2015

Which of your doctors do you like?

The ones who bore you with a monotone? The ones who look like they want to run out of the room instead of talk to you longer? The ones who you have to pry your test results from? Or how about the ones who are nice and empathetic? Those are my favorites.

And once again, it took a study to figure that out. And now they are teaching doctors how to be empathetic (not sympathetic - which means feeling sorry for someone). Empathy is defined as:
  1. the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another. 
  2. the imaginative ascribing to an object, as a natural object or work of art, feelings or attitudes present in oneself:
So using the first definition, think of your doctors and the ones you like. Doctors are not art - even though they may think they are.

For my doctors, I really like my rheumatologist (she is not allowed to retire). Not only is she nice and empathetic, she also spends 40 minutes with me at each visit so we get to talk. I also like my pain management doctor (another who can't retire). He is a nice man from Egypt and lets me talk to him about pain issues and listens to what I to say. Then he actually does things about it - injections, treatments, or prescription changes.  My medical oncologist is also very nice. She is great with answering questions and talking about cancer risks and managing fears.

I am on the fence with my primary care doctor. While I do like her and she is nice, she also seems to have an ego which shows up at every visit. Last year she said that she wasn't as concerned about my blood work as it was regularly being reviewed by my rheumatologist and endocrinologist. I thought 'what about cholesterol and the other blood levels that the rheumatologist and endocrinologist don't care about?' She may be replaced. It depends on how my annual physical goes. The empathy there is slipping.

My therapist for years was great. And then she retired. Not only had she had breast cancer she also had psoriatic arthritis. She could relate to me on a lot of levels. She suggested a replacement who has been axed. She talked more about her life than about how I was doing.

What about your doctors? Do they even know who you are? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe its time for some empathy and new ones.

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