15 Things I Want My Doctors to Learn

  1. When I’m sitting in your exam room don’t talk to another doctor or a nurse about me as if I’m not there.
  2. I may not have a medical degree, but that does not mean you know more about my body than I do.
  3. Listen, listen, listen, listen, listen, listen!
  4. Ask the right questions.  Don’t say “Why is your A1c 8%?”  We both know my A1c is out of range because I have diabetes.  Instead say, “I see that your A1c is higher than we’d like it to be.  Let’s try to figure out where and why you’re having problems.”
  5. If my lab reports aren’t perfect, don’t assume I’m doing something bad.
  6. Understand that I come to you when I am needy, scared, or I don’t feel well.  Be gentle and kind when I am down.  Don’t add to my anxiety.
  7. Don’t give me prescriptions for medications without explaining why you are choosing a particular medication and what the side effects might be.
  8. Don’t send me to do tests without telling me what you’re testing for.  Be honest and straightforward with me, but don’t frighten me unnecessarily.
  9. Remember that I am a person – not a bunch of numbers. 
  10. Don’t dismiss my questions.  If I’m asking it’s because I don’t understand and I want to understand.
  11. Be respectful if I don’t think the medication or treatment you are prescribing is right for me.  Don’t automatically get angry or annoyed.
  12. If you don’t have enough time to be my doctor, don’t take me as your patient.
  13.  Don’t get offended if I tell you I want a second opinion.
  14. Let me get dressed before you discuss things with me.
  15. Do not ever tell me to look things up online because you can’t be bothered to explain. 

This post is part of Diabetes Blog Week.  Today’s topic is about sharing with our healthcare professionals.

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9 years ago

I have a hospital visit next week and am dreading it, despite being a healthy diabetic.  Numbers 1 and 4 reminded me particularly of why I dread it…Last time my doctor invited in a couple of medical students and gave them an inaccurate and blistering account of my medical history.  I corrected her a few times, then gave up, went home and cried, I felt so humiliated.  Please bear in mind that we have feelings, doctors, and that berating us for not achieving perfect scores can be depressing and negative experience.  We don’t behave in that fashion toward you.  … Read more »

Carolyn Thomas
9 years ago

Thanks for this Jessica.  Except for the A1c references, this comprehensive must-read list is equally applicable to so many people living with other chronic diagnoses besides diabetes!  #14 really leaped out at me: “Let me get dressed before you discuss things with me” – as it elegantly captures the indignity of the patient’s lot, meekly sitting in the drafty paper gown, helplessly looking up at the (fully-dressed) health care professional.  Perfect visual of the inherent hierarchy in medicine.  So much of this boils down to common courtesy.  I wrote about this in “The Lost Art of Common Courtesy in Medicine”… Read more »

9 years ago

I have been refusing  A1C’s for awhile. I really hate it when they try to sneak it in. A1C is a diagnostic tool, not something to bagger me With

kathy kastner @kathykastner

I love your list: totally right on.
As a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, I pondered what it takes for me to be a ‘Participatory Patient’ I came up with some basics that I think often get overlooked. 

9 years ago

This is excellent. Here’s my take, written a few years ago (specifically for cancer patients but I think it applies more broadly, as well): http://notjustaboutcancer.blogspot.ca/2007/05/dos-and-donts-for-health-care.html

9 years ago

I refuse to be referred to as a “patient”. I am not ‘patient’. I am scared, angry, confused, tired, worried, hurried, preoccupied, unwell, and a million other things – but I can assure you I am not feeling ‘patient’. ‘Patient’ is a hegeminic term meant to disempower and control. On all forms, I cross out ‘patient’ and write ‘client’. I take the same attitude with physicians that clients have with me when I am hired to consult. I am a subject matter expert but not all-knowing about that particular organizations. Clients hire me for advice, assistance , and support. When at… Read more »

Jocelyn Foster
9 years ago

Fantastic list!!

Kelley Kent
9 years ago

What a great list!  I can’t believe #15 happened to you-I would be so pissed!  I totally agree with #2!

Scott K. Johnson
9 years ago

Love this list, Jessica! Amen!

Catherine Price
9 years ago

Thanks, but the credit must go to Jess. She wrote the blog :)

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