Doctor Can You Hear Me?
Last updated: March 2023
I’ve had my share of experiences with doctors who don’t listen, or don’t listen the way I need them to. The time that stands out as brutish was what my mother endured with her oncologist during her cancer journey. As for my own blood cancer journey, I’ve had incidents when I’ve had to talk to myself right afterward, puzzled with "was that them or me?" I’m not sure where the breakdown in communication comes in. However, I do have my theories.
Short visits: in and out
The allocation of time between the patient and doctor can be grueling, which is why it is suggested to come up with a list of concerns to go over with your doctor, because once they step out that door that’s it until the next visit.
Why there are long appointment wait-times that result in short-lived patient-doctor visits? It may boil down to insurance companies with their strict protocols where time is literally money for the doctor, so having us in and out is the new day in the doctor-patient experience.
It’s very rare to find a doctor that gives you longer than 20 minutes to review your issue because there are about a half dozen more people waiting in the other rooms at the same time awaiting their turn.
A broken system
The system of managed care is too complicated to break down, but it involves a broken system that the patient has to maneuver in a way that is fitting for their situation.
Hacks to navigate the broken system
So, we see and live in the mess of maneuvering through conversations and the SYSTEM of healthcare. Now, what do we do to ensure we’re getting the best care? Well, it involves doing what, hopefully, you’re already doing, and that is being your own advocate and speaking up.
Here are some tips to consider when visiting that doctor who is the best for your care but is pulled in this system of limited time.
- Start with- “I know you have limited time, but I wanted you to know these symptoms I’ve been experiencing...
- Write down a list (phone notes or paper) prior and when he/she asks how you have been, be prepared to provide them the top 3 things, if any, that you’ve experienced with your condition. Granted as time is of the essence, stick to points that are a real concern for that particular doctor.
- Continue the points with the nurse if you remembered last-minute concerns. Sometimes they are our allies in getting direct answers without necessarily seeing the doctor.
- If you get cut off from completing your thought because your time is being concluded short, ask “Who should I speak with because of X,Y, and Z?"
If they’re in accordance with your plea they’ll regroup and finish hearing you out fully before jumping ship.
It may feel as though we’re stuck in a system of politics in securing accurate care deemed impossible to grasp. It’s using your leverage and making the efforts that are now on your shoulder or care partner to seek and find.
Now every experience is not the same, but if you’re meeting a wall in effective communication with the source that is supposed to help you, the latter are some thoughts before seeking medical advice someplace else.
The time to fight is now, with integrity, grace, hope, and a smile….when you feel like it
Does your doctor listen to you?
How do you feel about your support system?