Building a bond of trust between patient and physician

We live in a world today where there is misinformation in abundant supply. What we see and hear in the media one day seems to be reversed the following day. What to believe, who to believe? Our world appears to be in a state of turmoil, a state of contradictions. Amid all of this, people are struggling to find some sense of peace and balance in their lives.

It is also an age of instant gratification, instant results. Unfortunately, this thinking has invaded the world of medicine. Minute clinics on every corner, urgent care centers popping up almost as frequently.  As a result, primary care practice has become fragmented, disjointed.  A ” mish-mash” of medicine, so to speak, where medical treatment is carried out in bits and pieces-a little here, a little there.  Treatment is administered by someone whose medical training and knowledge have been abbreviated from a physician’s extensive educational background and experience level.

I search for a place where my doctor knows me, and I know him/her. A place where a relationship can be established between the two of us. A person I can count on to help guide me on my health journey, not just for a 10-minute appointment but for the long haul. A place where this relationship is built upon a firm foundation of trust between patient and physician. How can this bond of trust be formed?

As my doctor, my healer, you are not immune from the purest definition of the term “trust.” The attributes of its definition are all the more critical of understanding.

  • You are present with me on my health journey, with all its bumps and detours that it invariably contains.
  • You allow me to share my story, encourage me to do so. Within my story is the core of my life, the tenets I hold most closely. To truly know me is to better heal me.
  • As a person, you see me as an individual with all the complexities that comprise me. I am so much more than a collection of data and charts.
  • You show me compassion and empathy, not pity. I need to know that I have your support and encouragement. This allows me to face the struggles that lie before me with courage and determination. I need assurance that I have someone who stands beside me, walking this path with me.
  • Optimally, we form a partnership, a strong union of two souls united for a common purpose. There is “give and take.” You sharing, me listening; me sharing, you listening. Reassurance that what I have to say is important and has value. The exchange of facts, feelings, and inquiries are ever-present. Knowing and understanding me, you come to better know and understand yourself.

Together, we form a formidable force against the sufferings of illness. My healer, you will have my unwavering trust as I make this journey of life.

Postscript:  To allow this special and sacred relationship between doctor and patient to evaporate at the expense of expediency and profit would be a travesty. Leaders of corporate medicine allow this bond of trust and understanding to flourish, rather than being short-changed or, worse yet, becoming extinct.  Allow the physician to hear his patient’s story, to truly know his patient.  Both sides of this partnership will benefit, and both will be appreciative of the health system they are a part of.

Michele Luckenbaugh is a patient advocate. 

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