Doctors need to be aware of their office staff behavior

by June Parker Beck

At age 73 I have definitely seen the evolution of the whole “doctor” experience, from Ob/Gyn, to pediatrician (have 5 children) to specialist, to internist.

I’ve learned to accept the fact that in this high tech age, we aren’t going to be chatting with our doctor about the grade school bake sale.  The biggest lesson learned, however, was that if you are treated rudely or curtly by a staff member, more often than not, the physician has no idea that this is happening.  You need to tell him – either in person or by a snail-mail letter marked “Personal.”

Most physicians now hold a computer when they interview you before examination.  With stylus in hand he/she remains transfixed on punching the right area on the screen without once looking at you.  It’s the eye contact I truly miss.  Even if it’s just for a second it would be nice.  They would prefer one or two syllable answers, but let’s face it, we patients do tend to ramble on occasion, spouting superfluous symptoms.  The patient should also write down concerns before going to the doctor and take the list with you so you don’t forget those concerns.

When one goes to a doctor because they feel ill (not just a routine check-up), they are usually in an anxious mood and staff needs to realize this.  Some patients are frightened and if they have to go to an office that is not easily accessible (parking, elevators, etc.) and the environment is stiff and intimidating they are not going to get off to a good start.  Doctors and staff need to understand that the patient has a right to expect some extra consideration and comfort.

As we age, lots of things can begin to go wrong in our bodily functions.  At this time we need a doctor to tell us not only what’s wrong with us physically and how to treat it….but also what’s RIGHT with us!  A few compliments can lift the spirits to a point where the patient can have the strength to deal with the physical problems we are treating.  About a decade ago I was in a grocery store I saw this lovely elderly gray haired lady and I (being a bit of an extrovert) walked up to her and said, “You have the most beautiful blue eyes!”…. she smiled at me and said, “Thank you – you’ve made my day.” My compliment was sincere…and so was her response.

I have been the archivist and web-site editor/designer for actress Maureen O’Hara for the past 17 years. It began as a hobby (I was a secretary in Special Needs back in 1n 1991 when this adventure began) and evolved into a friendship.  Maureen just turned 90 on Aug. 17th.  She has battled cancer 3 times and is diabetic and still going strong.  Between the two of us we’ve seen a lot of doctors and we both welcome a kind handshake and greeting from a doctor who looks you in the eye and when he says, “Nice to see you,” really means it.

June Parker Beck is Editor of Maureen O’Hara Magazine.

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