18 Jun 2007 07:31 pm

How To Get More Attention From Your Doctor

I ran across an interesting item today entitled, Alarm Bells on the med blog, Reflections by Dr. Bruce Campbell. The original intent of the article was to encourage physicians to be fair in how they allocate their time between patients.

However, there are lessons to be learned for patients as well. After all, I hear from people all the time complaining that they don’t feel like they get enough attention from their doctor.

Maybe the answer is… if you want more attention from your doctor… try being a better patient.

Instead of complaining, insulting, demanding or fussing… try being warm and friendly. Instead of venting about all the things that are wrong with the medical profession (real or imagined)… try treating your doctor with friendship and respect.

You may be surprised at the result.

For example, Dr. Campbell references a quote from a recent article in New York Magazine:

In response to a question on how patients can get doctors to pay attention to them, a gynecologist responds, “The truth is, we’ll spend more time with patients we like. We’ll joke with them, we’ll laugh with them. You have fun with patients you like.” He implies that being charming pays benefits.

Doctors and Nurses are only human. They don’t try to play favorites or consciously ignore their patients. But let’s face it. Who would you rather spend time with? Who would you give the most attention to? The person with the negative attitude and a sour disposition? Or the person who is happy to see you and wants to know how your day is going?

Quick wrap-up:

Don’t use the precious little time your doctor has to spend with you discussing negative or irrelevant topics. Go in with a positive attitude and a friendly demeanor. Your doctor is going to see a lot of unhappy, unpleasant people that day. Be the one person who brightens his day and makes him (or her) glad they decided to go into medicine.

More often than not, you’ll be the person who gets a little extra time with the doc.

– Dean


And btw, if you want to discuss what you don’t like about the medical profession or vent about healthcare issues, do what I do. Start reading (and commenting) on medical blogs. The healthcare professionals who create these blogs do so because they really CARE about making things better. They love blogging — it’s meant to be a social experience — and it’s a perfect chance to get some one-on-one time with the doctors and nurses who are shaping the future of modern medicine.

(And sometimes they talk about real icky stuff and it’s totally cool.) 🙂


10 Responses to “How To Get More Attention From Your Doctor”

  1. on 18 Jun 2007 at 8:42 pm 1.Ami said …


    Just found your blog. I like it a lot. Awesome stuff about the chiropractors, too. I saw my parents go to them a lot, and they paid a bundle to ‘keep my scoliosis from getting worse.’ And then my back started hurting. Ugh.

    I like doctors, actually. The only reason I don’t like to go to them is because unless I’m having a physical, I have to go there to complain about something. Even from the nice people, all they hear is complaining about aches and pains. Once they’ve cured us, they don’t usually get a followup: “That was awesome, doc! Thanks a lot!”

    BTW, how did you go about getting your book published?

  2. on 19 Jun 2007 at 3:54 am 2.Dean said …

    Hi Ami,

    Thanks for the nice comments. Believe it or not, I recognize your name from having read your comments on other medblogs. I noticed that you mentioned on Dr. Rob’s blog that you were working on a book. I’ll have to stop over and check out your blog and find out more about it.

    To answer your question, I’ve always self-published. It’s far more common than you might think and is really the only way to go if you’re doing non-fiction.

    I’ve never bothered to try submiting anything to a conventional publisher.

    If I ever did a work of fiction, I would probably go the conventional route of finding an agent… who could then shop the book to publishers. But for the type of thing I do, I believe you’re better off to do it yourself.

  3. on 25 Jun 2007 at 6:57 pm 3.Terry said …

    Nice article, Dean.

    One thing that I believe can be a big help to patients is writing a list of questions/concerns they may have BEFORE they see their doctor. Doctors have varying levels of sensitivity, and no one is healthcare is a mindreader (that I know of). By writing a list, patients can come to their doctors fully prepared to have their questions answered, and it is also something proactive, rather than fussing and complaining. They can take an active role and involvement in their own care!

  4. on 25 Jun 2007 at 9:36 pm 4.Dean said …

    Thanks Terry. That sounds like a good idea.

  5. on 30 Jun 2007 at 10:10 am 5.Holly said …

    Hi! I found your site thanks to Ambulance Driver. I’ve only read two posts and I’m hooked.
    I agree with your assertion about being pleasant and friendly. I see a lot of specialists…orthopedic surgeon, ophthmologist, cardiologist, endocrinolgist, ENT, GYN,as well as an internist. They are always friendly when they come into the exam room and I return that friendliness. I have a good relationship with all my docs. I’m knowledgable about my body and I’m not afraid to ask questions. They always take the time to answer those questions and give me lots of information.
    Also, because I’m polite and friendly to the office staff and nurses [I know their names, call them by name, even on the phone] I don’t have an inordinate wait time for an appointment. If I call with a problem, they find a place for me on the schedule. And I show up with a token of appreciation. Maybe a card, maybe a flower, maybe a pie or cookies for them to share. They always say, “You didn’t have to do that.” My reply is, “If I thought I HAD to do it, I’d try to figure a way out of it.”
    Kindness and consideration go a long way.
    Now, I have to go back to reading your “most excellent” blog.

  6. on 30 Jun 2007 at 9:49 pm 6.Dean said …

    Pie and cookies… I’m surprised they haven’t given you your own parking spot!!! 🙂

  7. on 30 Jul 2007 at 11:06 pm 7.Health Business Blog » Blog Archive » Grand Rounds 3:45 said …

    […] Rebuild Your Back suggests sucking up to your doc to get more attention. (Whatever happened to the squeaky wheel getting the grease?) […]

  8. on 31 Jul 2007 at 11:25 am 8.Kim said …

    You reminded me of a visit where my doctor came in and said, “How are things going?” and I said “Fine, I’m feeling great!”. He stopped and looked at me and said, “You’re the first person who has said that today!”. It was true! It was a follow up appointment, and things were going well! LOL! I think I made his day.

  9. on 01 Aug 2007 at 3:14 pm 9.emmy said …

    Well and good, and I don’t disagree with you. But how do you go about addressing hard situations. Such as “Your office keeps cancelling my appointments, even when there is a problem.” or “I only get a few minutes to explain some complicated issues with you. If your staff keeps coming in and interrupting I’m not getting your attention long enough for you to hear me, and how can I know that you are thinking about me and not what they just asked?” These aren’t easy, happy, “Hi, I’m fine. How are you?” issues. Also, there just are times when you have to go in and say “I feel bad and my whatever is painful or I’ve been throwing up all night, etc…Dr. visits really aren’t for paling around with friends.

  10. on 14 Apr 2008 at 11:48 am 10.gina pogol said …

    I was referred to my endocrinologist (for a pheochromocytoma) by my cardiologist, who I like and respect. But I’m having problems with the new doc. When the tumor didn’t show up on a CT scan I was concerned because I read in several studies that the chances of it being malignant increase if it isn’t on the adrenals. I also expressed concern that according to the drug company’s own web site Toprol (the drug I was prescribed to control BP surges) is contraindicated for pheochromocytoma patients. And finally, everthng I read said that I should have been put on alpha blockers prior to being prescribed beta blockers. I’m having a very hard time with the BP, getting wild swings (as high as 178/123 and as low as 71/50)despite meds. She didn’t address my concerns but stated irritably that the internet “just confuses” patients. I’m not stupid and there appeared to be a general consensus in what I was reading. I’ve had more scans and tests done and she won’t call with the results. I’ve called several times and always get put into voice mail and no one calls back. At this point I don’t have confidence in her but it’s a rare cancer, my town is small and if she’s the only one who can deal with it I don’t want to alienate her. What can I do?

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