6 tips to prevent being intimidated at the doctor’s office

6 tips to prevent being intimidated at the doctors office

I’ve had my share of unsuccessful experiences with doctors and at medical clinics, including being intimidated by them. But after twelve years of chronic illness, I’m happy to report that I’m doing better in this uncomfortable setting. Here are six strategies to help minimize the odds you’ll be intimidated and to help ensure you make the most of the short time allotted to you with the doctor.

1. Remind yourself that the doctors and the staff work for you, not vice versa.

I don’t mean to suggest that you can order them to do whatever you want. But they work for you in the same sense that an attorney or an accountant or even a hairdresser does. Why is it so easy for us to forget this? For me, it’s due to a combination of factors. First, I’m in their “house” not mine and am forced to put on a nightgown-looking thingy that makes me look like a child. Second, because I’ve come seeking help, it can feel as if they have all the knowledge and all the power, even though I often know more about my medical condition than they do. Third, I’m often at my weakest in the doctor’s office. The trip to get there, followed by the typical waiting times—first in the waiting room and then in the examination room—can take its toll even if I’m having a relatively good day.

Add to these three the fact that sometimes I’m too sick to sit in the examining room chair to wait for the doctor, so as soon my temperature, pulse, and blood pressure have been taken, I lie down on the examining table to wait. In this position (and in that silly gown), it’s hard to feel as if the person who comes in the room and towers over me…works for me!

To help me remember who works for whom, as I sit (or lie) waiting, I often repeat to myself: “He works for me”; or “She works for me.” I also practice mindful attention to what’s around me as a way to take my mind off any anxiety about the upcoming interaction. I’ve found that every setting is interesting if I bring all my senses to bear on it.

This mindfulness practice helps to keep me from feeling intimidated about the upcoming interaction with the doctor because I can’t simultaneously be paying careful attention to what’s presenting itself to my senses and, at the same time, be worried about the future. When I find my mind begin to wander from the present moment into thoughts about my relationship with the doctor, that’s the sign to repeat whichever phrase applies: “He works for me” or “She works for me.”

2. Consider taking someone with you.

Before I became chronically ill in 2001, I had no idea that I could have my husband accompany me into the examining room. In twelve years of illness, no one has ever questioned his presence. Occasionally I have to go on my own to an appointment, but when possible, I take him.

His presence is beneficial for several reasons. I feel less intimidated because I know I have an ally with me. In addition, I’ve noticed that when doctors see him, they become more attentive to what I’m saying and are also more forthcoming with information and explanations. Doctors will often look over at my husband as if they’re talking for his benefit. Sure, I could say: “Hey, I’m the patient here, talk to me!” But I’ll take a doctor who’s more communicative any way I can get it.

Finally, on the way home, I get a second opinion on how the appointment went: Did I feel listened to? Did the doctor involve me in the decision-making? Was he or she open to treating a “can’t give you a pill and fix you” patient?

You need not take a partner. Take your adult child or a cousin or a friend. Tell them ahead of time what you’re hoping to get out of the appointment and what you’d like them to be looking out for on your behalf. An extra pair or ears and eyes…and an extra brain…has been invaluable in helping me to not feel intimidated by even the most curt and brusque of doctors. For one thing, after the appointment, my husband can confirm that what I perceived as less than caring treatment was not in my imagination. This validation enables me to stop second-guessing myself. In fact, it encourages me to treat myself with compassion over a disappointment that was not my fault.

3. Bring a list to the appointment.

I read that seven minutes is the average amount of time you get with the doctor under managed care. Thankfully my regular doctor gives me more time than this (I haven’t figured out how, given his packed schedule), but I’ve encountered other doctors who are clearly working “on the clock.” You can sense it when they walk into the room. In my experience, the best way to manage this is to bring a list of what you want to raise and have it visible to the doctor when he or she enters the room.

I make a list of what I want to raise, in order of priority. The list serves several purposes. First, it helps me manage my own time so I don’t linger on one item too long, or stray off onto something I’d already decided wasn’t important enough to raise at this appointment. (As my family well knows, I can easily go “off topic”!)

Second, when doctors see my list, they often prompt me from it by saying, “Okay. What’s next on your list?” Most doctors appreciate that I’ve thought about the appointment ahead of time and structured our time together. It keeps us both focused on the task at hand, and they know that when we’re done with the list, we’re done with the appointment.

Third, I learned in a book called How Doctors Think that most doctors decide on a diagnosis and treatment within minutes of seeing you. I think that my list makes them less likely to jump to a quick conclusion, because the list forces them to see me as more than a body with a symptom that requires a quick fix.

All in all, with my list, I feel like an equal participant in the interaction and, that alone, is an effective counter to feeling intimidated.

What if the doctor says: “I don’t like lists.”? Fine. Put it down. Here’s your secret weapon though: be sure to memorize it before you go to the appointment. If the list is too long to memorize, it’s too long for one appointment anyway.

4. Let the doctor be the expert but don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Although doctors work for you (always remember that!), you are seeking them out for their expertise, so go with an open mind and with the assumption that they are knowledgeable and are seeking the best outcome for you. That said, don’t be shy about asking questions, including what alternative treatments are available. There’s a practical reason for doing the latter. Doctors are often thinking about alternatives—just not out loud! When you ask questions, it encourages them to talk to you about what’s going on in their heads and that’s something you want to be a party to.

I don’t recommend regaling the doctor with information from other sources (unless the doctor has encouraged to you do so). You’re likely to lose a doctor’s attention if you say: “Research on the Internet shows…” If you have information that you think is important, share it in a way that communicates that you think of you and your doctor as partners in your healthcare. Hand it to the doctor, while saying something like: “Doctor, I found this article that I thought might interest you.”

5. Repeat back your understanding of the plan of action.

When you sense your time is up, briefly feedback to the doctor what you understand has come out of the appointment. For example, you might say: “To be sure I understand you correctly, you want me to start this new medication, get a blood test in a week, and return in two weeks.” I’ve had too many appointments where I get to the car afterward and neither my husband nor I can remember some important detail of what happened. The risk of this is even greater, of course, if you’ve gone to the appointment alone.

6. Don’t write off a good doctor because of one disappointing visit.

Let me set the scene. You’ve seen this doctor before. The rapport was excellent. She was a good listener and involved you in the decision-making. You feel fortunate to be in her care. But then you have an appointment at which she rushes you and isn’t focusing on you as a flesh and blood person.

When this used to happen to me, I’d jump to the conclusion: “She doesn’t want me as her patient anymore; my illness is just too much of a hassle.” But I’ve learned that if I’ve already established a good relationship with a doctor, this reaction is off the mark. Life can be stressful for doctors too. This may have been a day when she was badly overbooked, or tired from lack of sleep, or worried about a family member. I used to feel hurt—personally hurt—when a doctor I had a good relationship with wasn’t “present” for me like I’d become accustomed to. Now I chalk it up to he or she having an off-day and, in every instance so far, the next appointment has gone fine.

It’s also possible that an unexpectedly disappointing visit was due to your doctor’s frustration about not being able to “fix” you. Doctors learn in medical school: examine, diagnose, fix. But that isn’t how it goes for people with chronic pain and illness. So, if you have a good relationship with a doctor, I suggest that you give him or her some slack and accept that on some days, a hard-to-treat patient is simply too difficult for the doctor to handle gracefully.

I had an insight into this about five years ago. I had a circular, itchy rash on my knee that wouldn’t go away, so I made an appointment to see my regular doctor. He took a scraping and went off to look at it under a microscope. When he returned, he was so excited that I had something he could actually diagnose and fix that he took me down the hall to look through the microscope myself. He explained exactly what I was seeing: a simple fungus that was treatable with over-the-counter ointment.

This interaction—seeing how happy he was to have helped me—gave me new insight into how difficult my illness must be for him at times. He’s an exceptionally caring doctor, so it’s understandable that once in a while he gets frustrated that he has a patient who’s been sick for twelve years and there’s been little he can do about it.

Those are my six tips. Some of you may already be employing one or more of them, and you may also have some good tips of your own. I hope you’ll share them in the comments section.

Toni Bernhard was a law professor at the University of California—Davis. She is the author of How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and their CaregiversHer forthcoming book is titled How to Wake Up: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide to Navigating Joy and SorrowShe can be found online at her self-titled site, Toni Bernhard.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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  • Rob Burnside

    A good read, Toni, with some very valuable suggestions. Though you don’t tell us what your chronic illness is (and there’s no reason why you should) I’d like to tack on a suggestion: physicians, and others, will often develop tunnel vision when you have a chronic illness and call or visit with a new problem. There’ s a great temptation, perhaps due primarily to time constraints, to attribute everything else to the illness you already have. “Oh, it’s just your______ acting up.” This is where a patient really must become a customer and say, “Prove it to me, please, Doctor.”

    And one more suggestion, for the smokers out there. It’s now called “Tobacco Use Disorder” and the same thing (see first paragraph) is even more likely to happen to you. Smoking isn’t “cool” anymore–we all get that– but having the habit doesn’t mean you automatically forfeit the reasonable expectation of proper health care. Some doctors will do their level best to make you believe it’s so. Don’t accept this. File a complaint if necessary. And, of course, quit if/when you can.

    • http://www.howtobesick.com Toni Bernhard

      Thanks for adding these excellent points Rob. In another article, I warned patients not to ignore new symptoms by just assuming that they relate to an already-diagnosed illness.

      Never heard of “Tobacco Use Disorder” and I agree that smokers do not sacrifice their reasonable expectation of good heath care.


      • Rob Burnside

        I’ll take it one step further, Toni. To the “Little Endiens” and the “Big Endiens” add the “Healthgots” and the “Healthnots.” Each group fears and loathes the other, periodically attacking or retaliating with large soda bans and pie eating contests. Think Swift would approve???

    • May Wright

      Somewhat related, it seems to me that doctors take any physical complaints I have more seriously now, than when I was 60 pounds heavier. I still have some of the same complaints now that I did then, but suddenly we’re looking for a cause for them rather than just “you’d feel a lot better if you’d just lose some weight”.

      • querywoman

        They took all my vague complaints better when I actually became diabetic than before. I see now that I was in a pre-diabetic state.

      • http://www.howtobesick.com Toni Bernhard

        May – I’ve heard of this happening a lot. I’m in touch with thousands of people with health problems because they’ve read my book and write to me. If they’re at all overweight, they’re often disregarded, sometimes with dire consequences. I don’t like to paint with too broad a brush. There are doctors who don’t act that way…but I’m afraid there are too many who do.

        • querywoman

          Fat activists point out that many fat people put off going to doctors till they have no choice. They encourage fat people to ask, “What would you do a thin person with my illness?”
          I have lost 80 pounds on new diabetes treatment, and by having come totally off insulin, but I’m still kind of chunky.
          My endo is a pragmatist. He put me on Victoza. I told him I’d like to send him other patients, but I don’t want them thinking he can magically make them lose weight. He said he has only had this kind of weight loss in one or two other patients.

      • Rob Burnside

        Thanks May, I think it’s more than somewhat related! When we’re able to, it behooves us to meet our docs halfway, at least.

      • querywoman

        I would have been happy and felt better to tell some of your past doctors, “You’re fired.”

    • querywoman

      “Tobacco Use Disorder”???? Ha!
      A poor man with a drinking problem is a, “drunk.”
      A rich man with a drinking problem is an, “alcoholic.
      A cousin called my mother years ago to tell her he had finally split with his wife because of her, “substance abuse problems,” and didn’t want her driving with the children in the car.
      That’s the super-polite term.
      I knew she was a lush years ago!

      • Rob Burnside

        QW, Either you’re Eric Hoffer’s daughter or a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, I can’t decide which. Maybe both…

        • querywoman

          Rob, I have a “worthless” BA in English. Perhaps one day my wit will earn me money.

          • Rob Burnside

            Hmmm…are you sure you’re not Patti Smith incognito? She started in a garment factory too, right? Well, no matter– I like the World According to QW. It’s far from Worthless (a small town in Minnesota, near Frostbite Falls). Keep on truckin’ Woman! And if you’re ever in Northeast PA, come on over and we’ll sing a few bars…

          • querywoman

            Thanks. I don’t sing. I do speak in public impromptu quite nicely.
            You helped me find my identity.
            Gonna try to establish private contact.

          • Rob Burnside

            I’ll be disappointed if you don’t, QW. Try rbbsville@gmail.com. You sing right fine!

    • http://www.howtobesick.com Toni Bernhard


      I agree that we have to be vigilant not to let new symptoms just be assumed to be part of whatever our chronic illness is. I wrote a Not-To-Do list for the chronically ill and that was one of the items on it: do not ignore new symptoms!


  • DrPatient

    Great. A lawyer giving patients advice on how to confront their doctor. Take what you will from this article, but keep in the back in your head that these are the people systematically destroying medicine. Likening a physician to a hairdresser says it all – yeah the person who cuts your hair is just like the person who sacrifices decades of their life and time with their family, who deals with increasing levels of paperwork and beaurocracy, who deals with decreasing reimbursements, who deals with lack of respect and appreciation, to keep you healthy and happy.

    • http://www.howtobesick.com Toni Bernhard

      I agree that doctors don’t have it easy today, but I do think they should be held accountable in negligence. As I said to the commenter above, we don’t live in a strict liability system. In other words, doctors haven’t committed malpractice just because the patient didn’t get the result that he or she had hoped for. The doctor must be found to have committed negligence, which is determined by whether his or her treatment fell below a standard of care set my others in the field.

      And by the way, I was never a lawyer. I was an academic. Big difference.

      All my best,

    • querywoman

      Most American doctors live much better than their predecessors about 75 years ago, in proportionately more costly homes, etc.
      Third party payers have enriched the medical profession, and now the system is self-destructing.
      Lawyers have not had a third party system enriching them.
      I’ll take a lawyer’s opinion. I’ll take a janitor’s opinion. A licensed medical doctor’s opinion is not the law of the lan.

      • morebuzzkills

        Wouldn’t you have to know the debt load “most American doctors” carry to truly assess whether they actually “live much better than their predecessors about 75 years ago.” Did you know most American doctors 75 years ago and also have access to their personal balance sheets? Furthermore, is “living in proportionately more costly homes, etc” truly a measure of living better?

        • querywoman

          Medical doctors usually pay off their student debt load in so many years after licensing.
          If you read my posts more, you will see that I maintain most of the modern American medicine problem starts in medical school, with the drastic exploitation of the student loan and tuition system. Then they get to deal with the health insurance industry, another viciously corrupt third party payer system.
          I am 57. Until I was 17, our doctors routinely billed us for services. When I was 17, I moved to a new city, and billing was over. You want to be paid in produce? I don’t have much produce. I can find something other than cash, a check, or a credit card to pay you.
          Also, proportionately more costly home scosts more to maintain and doesn’t necessarily mean living better. Read, “The Millionaire Next Door,” and you will find that the average millionaire lives in a home worth between $100,000 and $200,000.
          Most doctors in my urban area live in homes worth a minimum of $300,000. It’s not unusual for doctors to live in an $800,000 home.
          We don’t live in much of a closed society anymore. Property tax rolls have always been public info, but now, in Texas, they are all over the net. Other states have a little more limited access.
          I can look up anybody who owns a house on the property rolls online. I check the surrounding counties too.
          A medical doctor who isn’t independently wealthy and lives in an $800,000 home with eight bedrooms and five bathrooms won’t be very sympathetic whining about money.

          • morebuzzkills

            I’ve read the book…but the fallacy of MD wealth goes well beyond ‘The Millionaire Next Door.’ Living in an $800,000 house does not necessarily mean you are wealthy. It means you have a yearly income that will allow you to get a mortgage on an $800,000 house. Many MD’s (not all) are slaves to this type of debt. They live in $800,000 homes, drive $70,000 cars, etc…which are all financed through debt. The financing of major purchases with debt begins on the first day of medical school for most MD’s and becomes a vicious cycle that many MD’s never escape. Wealth and high income are two very different things. Also remember that while many other professionals are earning relatively high incomes in their late 20′s and early 30′s (the most important years for maximizing the time value of money through investment), MD’s are actually taking out loans to educate themselves. And just for the record, the interest rate on these loans during the first quarter of 2013 was higher than the average hedge fund return for the same period…food for thought.

          • querywoman

            Hmmm, we are really on the same wavelength. A mortgage is really a loan against future income, not the property. I have heard, and I know that there are exceptions, that doctors make infamously poor business divisions and investments, like in restaurants.
            Celebrity derm Arnie Klein has squandered his fortune.
            Lawyers are in the same boat on those loans.
            I still maintain that the real problem with modern medicine starts with having to finance a costly education.
            The entire university system in the United States is viciously corrupt. Dropping tuition and fees for medical schools and dipping into university endowments would not increase the number of medical students. There’s still a limited amount of slots.

            It appears that doctors who graduate with a monstrous debt load, since it is assumed they will make a good income, instantly start incurring lots of luxury debt. If they have children, they decide where to live. They may decide to live in a more costly suburb with good schools or send their children to private school. Many lower and middle class income families also send their children to private school, with some government help.
            I can get almost anything I want cheaply in this economy, except for dental care. I do have dentures now. I buy new clothes at the thrift stores all the time. I buy quality electronics secondhand. I have Medicare.

  • kjindal

    you need to find a “concierge” doctor who will give you the attention and self-esteem you are currently lacking.

    And yes, lawyers are ruining medicine these days.

    • http://www.howtobesick.com Toni Bernhard

      I don’t think I lack self-esteem, but the doctor’s office can create an atmosphere of unequal bargaining power, a very common phenomenon in contract law. Many a contract has been voided on those grounds.

      And I must disagree that lawyers are ruining medicine. The two should work in a balance, lawyers functioning to assure that doctors do the best job they can. We don’t live in a strict liability system. In other words, doctors haven’t committed malpractice just because the patient didn’t get the result that he or she had hoped for. The doctor must be found to have committed negligence, which is determined by whether his or her treatment fell below a standard of care set my others in the field.

      And by the way, I was never a lawyer. I was an academic. Big difference.

      All my best,

    • querywoman

      Malpractice suits are really quite rare. The modern American medical profession should be blaming itself.
      After reading this blog a few months, I have come to believe that a lot of the problem starts with the extortionist tuition in the medical schools and the ensuing debt.
      The American higher educational system has cause a new type of indentured servitude!

      • http://www.howtobesick.com Toni Bernhard

        Whoa. Don’t get me started on this issue—in my view, the reason it’s created an indentured servitude is that taxpayers are not longer willing to support higher education.

        • querywoman

          Taxpayers are especially unwilling to support exorbitant fees for higher education when it is pointed out that the university endowments get fatter all the time.
          The universities are staggeringly wealthy now, and it’s from all that student grant and loan money.
          I don’t feel sorry for the average medical doctor who whines about not making up. But, by the time a medical doctor graduates and gets licensed, he or she has already been raped and coerced into indentured servitude by one viciously corrupt third party payer system, the student loan industry.
          And then he or she becomes subject to the other major American corrupt third party payer system, the health insurance industry.
          The debt load for a recent medical graduate is frightening!
          I say that’s where their real problem starts, not with with the lawyers.
          Law graduates aren’t being enriched by a third party legal insurance system, while facing their own staggering student loan debt.

  • buzzkillerjsmith

    I’m intimidated by the guy in the picture and I’m not even sure he’s a real doctor.

    • http://www.howtobesick.com Toni Bernhard

      Hah! I didn’t come up with that picture. I wonder where it came from? Good point!

      • May Wright

        It is a stock photo from Crestock’s “Thoughtful Doctor Photos And Illustrations” collection, copyright Wavebreak Media. It’s subtitled “Earnest looking mature doctor”. I am not making this up! There’s also a slightly more friendly version where he’s not quite so cross looking, and then on another site the same model poses for the “Smiling pharmacist looking at pills in a shelf in a hospital” stock photo, where he’s got a big happy grin, Mr. Congeniality himself.

        So there you go! :)

        • http://www.howtobesick.com Toni Bernhard

          Thanks for figuring that out May!

        • querywoman

          Ha! These blogs have many purposes. I looked the Crestock stock photos of thoughtful docs and laughed! None of them impressed me! Guess I’m just prejudiced toward my deceased actor friend.

    • querywoman

      I just lost a friend, an elderly actor. We came across a pitcher of him impersonating a doctor in an ad for a well-known insurance company!
      Hysterical! Stethoscope on his neck with the, “Trust me, I’m a doctor,” smile!
      He had refused treatment for prostate cancer.

    • querywoman

      My deceased actor friend looked so much better, cheerful and upbeat, in his insurance ad than this sad-sack, hangdog-faced “doctor” does.
      I don’t think I can ever look at a doctor in some ad like this again without laughing after seeing my friend impersonating a doctor for money!
      I hope it paid good! He was never a rich actor!

  • guest

    Really, really great suggestions, for the most part. I would just add one little quibble, which is that, unless you are being seen in a concierge practice, the doctor is not truly “working for you,” but is working for some very poorly defined combination of you and your insurance company. What this means is that your doctor has pressures that you are not aware of from your insurance company, and will not always respond in the way that you might expect someone to who is 100% “working for you.”

    I wonder if a better way to help manage your anxiety about the interaction with your doctor wouldn’t be to focus on mindfulness, as you suggest, but with the thought that “the doctor is a person, just like me, with his or her own anxieties about things, and he/she really does want to help me even though our healthcare system doesn’t make it easy for her/him to do so.”

    • http://www.howtobesick.com Toni Bernhard

      Dear guest,

      Thanks for clarifying who works for whom. I touch on your suggestion at the end of the piece where I point out that doctors are people just like we are and are usually well-intentioned and want the best for us. I do think it’s helpful, if not to think of the doctor as working for you, at least not to think of yourself as working for the doctor!


  • A_Surgeon

    Strange. For a deep follower of Buddhism, there is so much negativity in your writing. Why is going to see a doctor portrayed as some sort of battle of wits? Did you ever consider that your chronic illness might have it’s origins in deep rooted personal unhappiness?

    • http://www.howtobesick.com Toni Bernhard

      I’m confused by your comment. My piece is not at all negative. It’s a list of constructive advice. And, if you read the last strategy, you’ll see that I empathize with the doctor’s challenges. Your comment that my illness might have its origins in deep rooted unhappiness is both insulting and completely off the mark. I am, in fact, a very happy person which you’d discover if you read my books.

      I hope you’ll re-read this piece and see that there’s no hostility in it, just an attempt to help patients have a more productive experience at the doctor’s office.

      My best to you,

      • A_Surgeon


        Your title involves the word intimidation. I rest my case. Your response to my comment is typical passive aggressive. Doctors are simply not in the business of trying to intimidate patients – that mindset is exceptionally rare, especially today. If anything, it is more common to see patients intimidating doctors! If patients follow your ‘advice’ and mindset, the outcome is likely to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. You HAVE set out a strategy/attitude that is highly likely to put up the back of even the most caring physician. Only SOME of your points are constructive. The overall tone is however, overwhelmingly self-centred and parts are downright manipulative. You are not always right, but are clearly used to getting your own way regardless. Taking a list is one of the very worst ways to get the physician on your side, as the poster above is trying to tell you. I had a look round your website. My reaction is that it is self-serving and very me, me, me. There is no doubt we will not agree: this is not the purpose of my post. The purpose of my post is to make others who read your article think again. Do not follow Toni’s advice: trust your doctor, he/she is usually right and is always trying to help. Even if the message he/she is trying to convey is not one you want to hear. This is not intimidation: it is the human condition.

        • http://www.howtobesick.com Toni Bernhard

          I’ve heard from hundreds of people since the publication of my first book, telling me they’ve been intimidated by doctors. That’s why I used that particular word in the title– as an attempt to help others.

          I have no idea how you could have concluded that my website is “me, me, me and self-serving.” Did you read what others have said about my books? Obviously they don’t see them as self-aggrandizing. Try going to Amazon’s website for “How to Be Sick” and see how that book has changed so many people’s lives for the better. I did not write these books for me. I wrote them for others.

          I don’t understand your hostility toward me. I think it’s probably best for us to agree to disagree. For example, I have had doctor after doctor tell me how much they appreciate that I’ve brought a list to the appointment because it keeps us focused.

          I hope people read my suggestions carefully and decide for themselves, based on their experience, which ones will help them get the best care possible.

        • Suzi Q 38

          What is wrong with suggestion #3, “Bring a list to the appointment?”

          We wait months or a year to see the specialist, so why not make sure that you have asked all the important questions and discussed all relevant symptoms, plus advice for a plan of action?

    • querywoman

      So Toni is a Buddhist and you criticize her for being negative? Negativity is a part of life.
      I am a Christian. Abrahamic religions don’t say much about destruction.
      The Hindu triune godhead includes Shiva, the god of destruction. Hinduism celebrates destruction as part of life.
      Remember, a fire regenerates a forest.

  • f. lusu

    i was just wondering about your third point; “bring a list to the appointment”. if your doctor spends more then the average 7 minutes with you and has a packed schedule, i think it would be fair to your exceptionally caring doctor, if you(or other patients) brought a short list, went over the most pressing issues and then made a second appointment to go over the rest of your concerns. it’s more respectful of his limited time.

    it seems like you are making good use of your time with him by describing your symptoms, being prepared to answer his questions with more detailed information, repeating his instructions back to him to make sure you are on the same page…. but then,…on to the next question on the list. whew. you have a great relationship with your doctor but i honestly think that most people don’t. if they followed your advice, their doctor might walk into the exam room see a patient sitting there with a list for a routine office visit and be a ‘little’ resentful.

  • querywoman

    Most of my docs give me my 15 minutes.

    • Suzi Q 38

      I expect at least 15 minutes if I am seeing a specialist.
      I usually get that.

  • http://apainedlife.blogspot.com/ Carol Levy

    I am surprised at the anger from those who are more involved with the author then the advice.

    This is all sound advice, in fact it has been the advice in chornic pain support groups for years.
    It is sometimes hard to remember what you want to say or in answering one question the conversation derails what you wanted to say.

    Remembering that the doc is our employee is not always a tolerable statement for many of the docs I read reply on these kinds of sites, like Kevin;s, and others.

    I don’t think there is much room for debate in any of these.

    Carol Levy
    author A PAINED LIFE, a chronic pain journey
    FBWomen In Pain Awareness Group
    The Pained Life, 30 years, and counting. Blog
    accredited to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities member U.N. NGO group, Persons With Disabilities

  • elizabeth52

    Oh, Davis, what a nice town, my sister did a residency and lived there for 4 years. She worked very long hours, but loved every minute of it. I visited twice and have fond memories of the University and Davis.

    Anyway, I agree with most of your points, I think being naked and in a gown does affect the power dynamic. (and gulp, those stirrups, the stuff of nightmares, they’re not used here except in some procedures and surgery) We don’t have the examine-everything exams so this is not really an issue for us. Routine pelvic and breast exams are not recommended here, I’d refuse them anyway. I’d urge Americans to look at the evidence for these exams, it’s not good and leads to poorer health outcomes.

    I think it’s important to first establish you can work with a doctor, if a doctor spoke down to me/over me/gave me orders/tried to coerce or pressure me, I’d be out the door.
    Once you find a decent and respectful doctor, be firm, calm and polite is my suggestion. I find it works well…a respectful exchange, even if I’m going against a recommendation, like declining breast screening.

    Age has helped me, I avoided doctors when I was young, but at 55 I refuse to go without medical care and now feel in control in the consult room. Age has it’s benefits.
    So many women manage with no healthcare because of the insane pressure to have unnecessary routine pelvic exams or to agree to cancer screening tests. It worries me, we’re all entitled to decent and respectful healthcare, a doctor who puts us first and acts in our best interests. Someone who respects informed consent. They’re out there, it’s worth the effort to find your doctor, the right fit.

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