Communicating with men and women in the exam room

Who ever said you have to stay with the same doctor? I am always disappointed when I hear the stories that some people relate about how they sat and told their doctor this and that and that he/she didn’t listen, didn’t know what to do, didn’t care, etc.

Makes me sad of course, because I know how easy it is to just listen and look people in the eyes when they speak.

But it isn’t an easy thing, I guess, to slow down for the two minutes it takes to empathize. To look a patient in the eyes as he/she relates a symptom list and looks to the physician for that essential bit of humanity that is characterized by planets like Mars and Venus.

If you don’t know what I mean when I bring up those two astral bodies, you need to go read the book (Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, of course). See, men like to fix things. When we hear a problem, related as a story, we tend to offer solutions. Women like to relate and appreciate the story. They don’t necessarily want the solution, at least not right away. They tend to want the hug first.

So, as a man and a physician, I try to listen and let the patient know that I understand. Sort of a virtual hug, if you will. Then I offer my solution.

And if you apply both of those characteristics of men and women, empathy works. So if you or your loved ones go see your doctor and he/she doesn’t demonstrate that they know the difference between Mars and Venus, maybe it’s time to get a new doctor.

Paul Dorio is an interventional radiologist who blogs at his self-titled site, Paul J Dorio, MD.

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