There is nothing more special and sacred than the doctor-patient relationship. I once had a physician professor in medical school with his loud, booming preacher-like voice say,
“There is something so remarkable about becoming a physician. You get to be present at their birth or at their death. You will witness the most fragile moments in a person’s life. You will see the naked for God's sake. Young Doctors, they trust you. Treat them well!”
In our world today, this type of relationship is fading, ever so slowly. Chipped away by more technology, more systematic approaches and less face to face time. When I have a moment with a patient that we truly connect on a deeply personal level, I treasure it. I love the diversity and age range of my practice. The term, “from cradle to grave,” was meant for a family doctor. All ages, every disease, each organ, individual treatment.
But wow, can it be overwhelming!
Unlike other physicians who dedicate their practice to one organ system or disease, family doctors care for the entire person. Where else can you go for an office visit, get a pelvic exam, prescription for allergy medication, talk about your family and want to come back? Your local family doctor that is!
So do you have a doctor in your life like this? If so, wonderful! I would recommend taking an active role in your health care. Here are some tips to work your your physician so together you can achieve the best health possible:
- Talk to your doctor about any current or past health care issues (or make sure the nurse has your chart up to date)
- Let them know what medicines you are taking INCLUDING any herbals, over the counter medications, vitamins, supplements, old medicines you have been saving back, etc
- Create a health journal. This is simply keeping track of what doctors you see, what medicines you take, any allergies, advance directives, etc and keeping this all in a folder.
- Ask questions. Let your doctor know when you don’t understand. If you don’t ask, we doctors typically assume you understood what we said.
- Ask for information to take home. You can also bring someone along to take notes. Or if you don’t have an extra person, record the instructions from your doctor on your phone. I have had my patients make a quick video of me explaining a new medication or telling them important information.
- Follow up with your doctor especially if you have confused or start to feel worse.
From familydoctor.org (patient portal provided by the American Academy of Family Physicians) states that research has shown that people who have an ongoing relationship with their primary care physician (also referred to as PCP) have better overall health outcomes, lower death rates and lower total costs of care. Sounds pretty darn good to me.