two doctors with their heads cropped out of the picture because they're standing in front of a person with a wheelchair who can't look up, checklist are on their chests

7 Things We Expect From Our Doctors

Last updated: March 2022

Me, I don’t want just any doctor. I think most of us are this way. We try to find doctors who cater to our specific needs and we also try to find doctors who complement our personalities. Yet sometimes, we don’t have a choice. Sometimes we have to just accept the doctors that have us as patients. So, regardless of the doctor, here are seven things we expect.

Access

"I came to the ER because my doctor couldn't get me into the office," said my patient.

"Really?" I said.

"Yep. I'm supposed to come in if I feel these symptoms. But I can't get in. So here I am."

A good doctor is available when their patients need them.

Quality time

“He just zipped into the room, looked at his computer, rattled off a few things, and was out the door. I had all sorts of questions for him that were left unanswered.”

As patients, we just want you to give us the time we deserve. Before leaving the office, a good doctor will say something like, “Do you have any questions? Is there anything else I can do for you?”

Give us the time we deserve.

Effective communication

“I have no idea what he just said. It was something about buildup on my heart valve. What is that? I'm so worried about it."

We don’t want your answers to be a bunch of medical gobbly gook either.

For example, my mom was so overwhelmed after talking to a doctor that she called me all stressed out. Mom was more stressed and confused after leaving her doctor’s appointment than she was before she arrived. That’s not good.

Good doctors will make their explanations clear and concise. Good doctors will make the complex seem easy, and talk in lamen’s terms. They won't let you leave the office more confused than when you arrived. Sure, it’s nice that I’m available to explain things to mom, but it shouldn’t be necessary.

Empathy

“I just wish it was a requirement for doctors to be patients. Then maybe they’d understand us more.”

It was a patient with heart failure who said this to me. She added: “My doctor has asthma, and he understands what it’s like to have asthma. And that’s good. But he never had heart failure, so he doesn’t understand.”

A little empathy, please!

A head

"He was a headless man."

No, I'm not being funny here. I think every doctor should have a head. Allow me to explain.

My grandma was in a wheelchair. One day when I visited her she handed me a piece of paper. On it was written, in her handwriting, a poem. It was about a headless person. I did not understand it and I told her that. She pointed to the last sentence of the poem.

It said, “I’m in a frickin wheelchair, stupid.”

Then I understood. People would come in and stand, and all she saw was a headless person. So, her wish was for everyone, especially doctors, to have a seat, “Come down to my level.”

Good doctors will always put themselves on the same level as their patients.

Respect your wishes

"I have another doctor's appointment tomorrow. I don't even want to go. Every time I see a doctor it seems he finds one more thing wrong with me." My uncle said this to me once.

"He wants me to get more tests done, and I said I don't want any more tests. I just want to live my life and enjoy what I have left. He told me I was being non-compliant." a community member said.

My uncle had COPD. He was also diagnosed with lung cancer and he had a part of his lung removed due to it. I visited him one day and he said he had to go to the doctor the next day. He was dreading it. He said he was just going through all this to make his doctor happy.

My uncle was not being non-compliant. Our community member was not being non-compliant.

A good doctor will respect your wishes.

Takeaways

I could go on. I could talk about honesty and humility. I could talk about compassion. I'm sure there are other things that we, as patients, expect from our doctors, and I think it's fair to have such expectations.

What about you? Do you have things you expect from your doctor? Please let us know in the comments below.

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