I had just finished seeing a patient who came to me from Bangalore for IVF treatment , and before leaving the room, he turned around and said - " Thank you so much for taking the time to listen to us so patiently ! "
I was flummoxed ! After all, isn't listening to a patient a part of the doctor's job description ? Why was he thanking me for doing something which is so routine and mundane ?
When I asked my next patient why I was being thanked, he said - That's because you are so different from most other doctors, doc ! Most doctors just rush like automatons through a long line of patients. It's like they are just processing an assembly line of people - and they have 7 minutes in which to listen to you . They are always rushed and harassed - and it's very hard to have a decent convesration with them. Most of them are focused on the medical issue at hand - while some only speak medicalese, so it's hard to make sense of what they are saying. It's a pleasure to meet a doctor who can have an intelligent conversation and is interested in me as a person.
I love talking to my patients ! They come from all over the world and have interesting stories to share ! I am naturally curious and love learning new stuff. Doctors tend to get very inbred and talking shop to other doctors can get very boring and monotonous. Listening to patients talk about their professions helps me to get a better understanding of what's happening in the rest of the world and broadens my horizons. Patients are smart and intelligent and are happy to talk to their doctors . They are a great source of intelligence - and I am not just talking about hot stock tips here ! They teach me about what's happening in the online world and help me to keep my website ( and my wits) sharp and clear !
Patients have a lot to teach doctors - I just wished doctors opened their hearts and minds and took the time to listen and learn ! Doctors need to be reminded that they are uniquely privileged in being given a ringside view to a person's innermost desires and struggles when their patients are battling with some of the life's most difficult moments. A smart doctor can learn a lot from his patients - both how to live and how to die when the time comes - he just needs to be willing to do so !