Thursday, April 12, 2012

Dear Doctor

Dear Doctor-In-Training and Doctor,

I've no doubt you're wicked smaht.  You obviously have been able to memorize all those body parts in A and P and those chemical equations in organic and inorganic really well and now have become a doctor or a fetus doctor (not a doctor for fetuses but an embryonic doctor, a doctor-in-development), a fellow.  However, when it comes to human interaction, which some cultures and a growing body of research suggest can have a significant impact on health,  a nose pickin', ass scratchin', lungi hockin' troglodyte scores higher marks. (I've never had to spell 'lungi' before so I don't know if that's right).

Check this out:  when you are in a consulting room with me, I should have your full and undivided attention.  That means no Pavlovian response to the phone in your pocket, no quick text check to chuckle over some lame quip by another fetus doctor/trog, no tappety-tap response while I'm listing my symptoms. You look like a total shithead as you wipe the my-friends-and I-are-so-clever smile off your face and turn your attention back to me all Suzie Serious and Connie Concern. Flip the switch!  I'm a doctor! Flip the switch!  I can play with my friends on social networks while I'm with a patient! Flip the switch! I think I can multi-task!  Flip that switch all you want, fetus doctor, you come off as an insult to all the good doctors out there. And a douchebag.

Similarly, Ms Attending Physician with the great shoes:  I understand you have to call radiology to get my test results while I sit here half naked.  No problem. But you really do not have to listen for 10 minutes (I had nothing to do so I watched the clock and am not exaggerating) while the person on the other end regales you with tales of her Caribbean cruise or spawn's first steps or vaginal discharge or whatever she's on about.  It's pretty obvious from where I'm sitting, half naked and a foot away from you, that she's not talking about work. And don't look at me, roll your eyes and shrug.  Seriously?! You're a muckety-muck at a prestigious hospital in Boston and you can't deal with a simple case of phone logorrhea?  Here's how it's done:  you interrupt the person on the other end of the line with, "hey, sorry, but I'm with a patient right now. Let's talk later."  See how easy that was?

I've had some human and humane interactions with some amazing doctors.  I've been seeing my gynecologist  for 20 years and she knows me inside and out.  (Yup, I wrote that). Oops, never mind. She's a nurse practitioner. Ok. I love my dentist.  Love him. My dentist. That's how good he is.  My dermatologist is a charming old Boston blue blood, nice person and great doctor.

The sad irony in the above bad interactions which were painfully, humiliatingly, stunningly real is that both practitioners are women.  Just goes to show that even nurturing "instincts" (if they exist at all) can be educated right out of people by our "best" medical schools. Or maybe some people just don't have what it takes to be a decent doctor.

With all the respect you deserve,
your patient

p.s. If you're looking for me, I put my clothes on and ran away (far, far away) while you were on the phone/FB.

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