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How to Speak to Your Physician?

With health practitioners busier than ever, communication is essential to getting the best care. At one time or another, most of us have complained about feeling dissatisfied with a visit to the doctor’s office. When I hear people voicing their concerns to anyone who will listen-except their doctor-I’m convinced that part of the problem lies in our difficulty speaking honestly with authority figures.

The health-care system has changed over the past five or 10 years. Hospital stays are shorter, and walk-in clinics are more frequently used, in part due to the lower number of GPs accepting new patients. In today’s system, you play an important role in your own care. Here are tips for conveying your needs, so your time with the doctor is as helpful as possible. Humanizing your doctor

We expect a lot of health practitioners: to spend a reasonable amount of time with us, to communicate effectively, to be in a good mood and to have answers to all our medical questions.

If you ask patients whether these expectations are met, some will say yes, but the majority feel let down. Why? It may be that our expectations are unrealistic, or it may be the result of a breakdown in communication.

Patients often think of their doctors as infallible, but open conversation can change that. If we see our physicians as ordinary people, our expect­ations will become more realistic.

For example, when a patient visited her doctor for a cold, the doctor was annoyed with her for taking up valuable time. The patient was surprised that he would speak to her so irritably. When he saw her reaction, the doctor apologized. He explained that he had a heavy patient load that week and was also worried about his young daughter, who was sick. The patient realized that perhaps her doctor had a point about a needless visit and that he, too, had personal stresses. Learn more at:

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