Do You Like Your Doctor?

Do you like your doctor? For the vast majority of people, it is simply not enough that their doctor is knowledgeable and experienced at treating their medical conditions. It also doesn’t matter if they are one of the rare doctors who can be highly accessible and available whenever you need them if you don’t “like” them. A positive patient experience and high level of satisfaction has been shown to be more closely related to the relationship that someone has with their doctor than any other determinant.

Do I like this doctor? may be the most important question someone can ask when screening for a primary care physician. The bedside manner, personality, and communication skills of the doctor will reveal their level of interest in their patients and, therefore, the amount of effort they are likely to put forth in building a relationship of trust with you. This interest along with excellent communication skills and a propensity to educate their patients results in more time with each patient. More time leads to better understanding of their situations, more accurate diagnoses, better explanations, and greater clarity about recommendations.

Does the doctor seem to respect their patients and partner with them in decision-making or do they dictate action plans or belittle their patient’s ideas and questions? How do you define a good working relationship with a doctor?

You wouldn’t hire a handyman, a lawn service, or any other employee without an interview. You should not be expected to commit to a doctor-patient relationship with a primary care physician that you intend to stay with for a long time without first being given the opportunity to talk with them. Anyone looking for a new primary care physician should ask the medical practice for an opportunity to meet the physician to get to know them and their approach to patients before committing to ongoing care at that practice.

Forward-thinking medical practices will allow you some kind of no-obligation visit for this purpose. (But don’t expect to receive medical advice or services without paying for them.) Most people are able to draw a conclusion quickly about the doctor’s communication skills, demeanor, patience, and bedside manner, if simply given the opportunity to meet and interview the physician candidate.

Without this important step, many people end up wasting time jumping from doctor to doctor each time they have a medical need before landing with one that they actually like. Very inefficient. If you are in need of a new primary care physician, ask to meet the doctor for this purpose before being seen for any medical needs.