Docere – Doctor as Teacher

May 1st, 2012

The word “Doctor” has its root in the Latin word “Docere” meaning teacher. Historically doctors have embraced this aspect of their profession. Spending time with patients, explaining the diagnosis, discussing treatment options, and just catching up, would all be part of a regular appointment.  Times certainly have changed. Now a visit to a conventional doctor’s office consists of a wait lasting longer than the actual appointment and face time with the doctor seldom lasting more than 10 minutes. Unfortunately because of the hurried appointment questions are often left unsaid and the result is a patient population feeling isolated, confused, and scared.

The doctors, pressured by insurance quotas and limited by the insurance billing options, are rushed and restricted.  This system we are stuck in now is no more the doctors fault than it is the patients.  Ultimately, both sides are left longing for something more. Just a little more time, a little more listening, a little more understanding, could go a long way towards patients that are happy and hopeful about their health.  I can assure you first hand as a doctor, sleep comes easier when there is a certainty that each patient was given all the opportunity needed to ask questions; and to have options and risks explained.  Doctors want to spend more time with patients, answer questions, and truly do recognize the value in this interaction.

Here are 4 steps patients can take to help ensure that their time in the doctor’s office is useful and efficient?

  1. Write down and bring a list with your questions to the appointment. – It is too easy to forget what we wanted to ask when things are already feeling rushed.  Let the doctor know that you have questions with you before the appointment begins so that you don’t catch her off guard as she is walking out the door.
  2. Bring a friend or family member with you to your appointment. – This individual acts as your personal health advocate.  Make sure they know in advance what questions you want to ask during the appointment.  Also be certain that they have a notepad and a pen to take notes during the visit so that the patient doesn’t have to remember every detail of what the doctor says.
  3. Try and schedule your doctor appointments early in the morning. – This allows you to have face time with the doctor before the day is already running behind schedule.  Typically individuals are more alert and productive during the first 4 hours of a work day.
  4. Don’t come to the appointment with a stack of printouts from the internet for the doctor to look over. – The doctor’s time is valuable and in order to help them help you, limit your questions to 3 or 4 specific topics that you have worked up before the appointment.

Becoming proactive regarding the medical decisions that affect your life is the first step towards achieving health and vitality.  By embracing this opportunity for personal empowerment, you can change the interactions that you have with your doctors in order to better feel heard and understood.  This will lead to greater health.

Posted in Homeopathic Medicine, Naturopathic Medicine |

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