|Conversation between doctor and patient/consumer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
However, just like patients have a list of what they want from their ideal doctor , doctors have a list of what they want from their ideal patient !
In the beginning , when doctors are starting practice, they cannot afford to be choosy about what kind of patients they accept , because they need to make a living . The young doctor is happy to see whoever comes to him. However, over the passage of time , as doctors become more senior, they can afford to be picky and choosy about what patients they want to treat , and which they don’t.
I have a set of criteria which I use in order to select patients who I think are right for me , and for those whom I think I am a good choice, I'm not trying to be arrogant – I just believe that patients get the doctors they deserve , and doctors get the patients they deserve . When both the doctor and the patient are on the same page and have the same philosophy , they are likely to be happy with each other. If not, they are likely to be unhappy , and this is not good either for the doctor or for the patient .
I expect my patients to do their homework and become experts on their problem. I expect my patients to provide inputs into the treatment we offer them, rather than be passive and blindly agreeing to whatever I say. Yes, this does involve a bit of effort on their part , but it’s well worth their while investing time in doing so, because it helps me to provide better medical care for them. As a doctor, I create and provide tools to help them to learn more about their illness.
It's not that I would refuse to treat a patient who didn't meet my criteria – it’s just that the quality of care which I can provide to patients who are willing to work towards meeting my expectations is far better than what I can provide to those who do not. Not only does a doctor’s wish list of an “ideal patient” make for happier patients and happier doctors, it also helps to improve the outcome of medical care.
For example , if an IVF cycle fails , I expect my patient to have been prepared for this failure because she understands exactly what is within our control , and what is not. I expect my patients to have a plan of action – and to have a Plan B, so they do not go to pieces when riding the IVF emotional roller coaster. I expect my patients to be able to interpret their own medical results ; and have an opinion about what their options are , and what is likely to work for them. I may not see with them eye to eye , but am happy to work towards reaching a consensus.
The kind of patient whom I do not want is the one who's completely clueless – the one who says , “Here are your fees, doctor - do exactly what you want and give me a baby ! “These patients worry me , because they have very unrealistic expectations of what I can do for them.
I admire and respect expert patients – those who do their homework, and ask me intelligent questions. They keep me on my toes, and help me to grow. The really smart ones also educate me, as they teach me to be empathetic and responsive to their needs.