Do you ever feel like talking with your doctor is like talking to a wall? I have lost count of the number of doctor appointments that have felt like I would have been better off conversing with the office wall. Here are a few things we as patients can do to improve our communication.
1. Be mindful of your emotions
To be clear I am in no way suggesting that you hide your emotions or overly express them. What I am suggesting is that you find a balance. When we hide our emotions our physicians tend to discount how poorly we are feeling or how negatively our pain or conditions are affecting our lives. When we overly express our sadness and frustrations our doctor’s focus moves from our symptoms/conditions to depression. That would be okay if depression is what you are there for, but if it isn’t it will become the focus and your real reason for seeing your doctor will be ignored or dismissed.
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2. Enter your appointment prepared
Prepare for your appointment by listing the points you need them to hear, your questions, and how your symptom/condition is affecting your daily life. Click here for a free downloadable doctor appointment worksheet. By having your thoughts on paper and in front of you, you will be less apt to get distracted or forget what you wanted to say. Entering your appointment prepared also shows your doctor that you there with a specific goal in mind. One thing my primary doctor is good at is making sure that I have had time to address each of my concerns. Every appointment ends with him asking if we covered everything I had on my list.
3. Get their attention
While I totally sympathize with doctors for only having so much time to see too many patients in one day, it is not an excuse to not fully engage with their patients. Have you ever had an appointment where while you were describing your new symptom or current concerns your doctor spent his or her time scanning your chart or reading your history? I have and it annoys the heck out of me. I don’t know about you, but when I am talking with someone I like their full attention and expect eye contact. When they are staring at a chart or computer screen I feel like I am talking to a wall. Frustrated by this I stopped talking in one appointment.
My doctor told me to continue, but I refused and told him I would when I could have his attention. He tried to excuse his behavior by saying that he only has so much time with each patient and that he was listening to me, and that while listening he was picking up on keywords and thinking about how they could be the problem. I replied that choosing words versus hearing what I was fully trying to express is the problem. By doing so he often mistook a symptom of a problem for a whole new condition. This wasted everyone’s time and money. Not only that but there was no way he could fully hear what I was trying to communicate if his mind was off thinking about other conditions. There is nothing wrong with expecting respect and attention during your appointment.
Will these tips guarantee a successful appointment. No, and that it because not all doctors are willing to really listen to their patients. If that is the case with your physician it may be time to find a new one who is willing to listen.
Do you have a tip for getting a doctor’s attention? Please share in the comments below or on the social media post you found this article on.
Are you seeking information on how to treat your chronic pain/illness alternatively? Whether you are considering natural or unconventional treatments or are already treating your conditions alternatively, I invite you to join my Facebook group The Disabled Diva’s Alternative Chronic Pain Fighting Forum.