A quick scroll online confirms many hypothyroid patients feel dismissed by their doctor.
Facebook communities, Reddit conversations, and Instagram feeds have become channels for commiseration over difficulties with doctors. "She was super dismissive of how I was feeling and focused entirely on just one test," posts one user. A sympathetic community member responds, "I know! Every doctor I've met with has been very dismissive, and I feel so hopeless and let down."
This dissatisfaction is everywhere, and patients deserve to be heard!
The doctor-patient relationship is an intimate one. We share details of our lives and health with our doctor that we don't share with anyone else – sometimes not even our partners. So before you dismiss your doctor as unsympathetic, consider looking at your relationship as a similar partnership that requires effort from both parties.
Take responsibility for communicating what you need the doctor to hear and be open to listening to your doctor's perspective and knowledge. This behavior is self-advocacy, just as much as it is a partnership.
Partnering with a trustworthy doctor is essential so that you can feel better—faster. No matter how you may feel during a conversation with your doctor, at the end of the day, you are both on the same team with the same goal: getting you to feel your best.
The path to health and well-being can be long, frustrating, and lonely at times. Your health is a long-term commitment, and it's crucial to partner with a doctor who knows you and who can track your progress. To do that, we need to improve our communication skills and recognize when things are going well and when things are off track.
Below are three simple tips from a thyroid doctor that will aid your communication and ultimately improve your relationship with your doctor.
I love it when my patients bring a list of questions and concerns, so I know the best use of our time together!
Make a list of concerns you want to be addressed at the appointment and bring it up to your practitioner early. Remember that it may not be feasible to address the entire list, so prioritize if it is long. Pick the two or three most pressing issues that cannot wait until next time to help inform your doctor what is important to you.
In every interaction and situation, we each have a point of view and understanding. In a doctor's appointment, you may disagree with your doctor because of your personal experience or research. And sometimes your doctor may disagree with you based on their clinical training and expertise.
You have permission to ask your doctor to explain something to you again or differently if anything needs clarification or discussion. Listen with patience and openness so that you can have a full understanding of their point of view as you work together toward a solution. Remember, it is not you versus your doctor, but instead you and your doctor versus the symptoms.
Similarly, toward the end of the visit, when it comes time to figure out the next steps, ask for clarification if you need it. Do you feel included in the decisions made about your health? Ask your doctor about alternative treatment options or why they think what they are recommending is the best course of action.
Do not feel guilty for asking these questions! You are the driver of your health, not just along for the ride. No one knows how you feel better than you do, so if you don't ask the questions, who will?
What if something comes up between appointments? Maybe it sounds trite, but often I remind my patients to call the office. Especially for things like side effects to medications, changes in dosage, or a treatment not working out as hoped.
Your doctor doesn't know what you don't tell them. If you don't tell your doctor what's going on post-visit, he or she isn't able to adjust the approach or improve your experience. Not to mention the potential complications that could occur during that time! Keep those lines of communication open so that your doctor stays in the loop and can track your progress.
Remember that physicians are people, too. We want what's best for you and your health, and sometimes that means disagreement or awkward dialogue. Ask questions, be curious, listen openly, and discuss ideas or requests for moving forward.
Do you feel like your doctor is a partner in your health? If you've given it your best effort, but you still do not feel comfortable with or trusting of your doctor, then it's time to move on. You need to have a good feeling and a good relationship with the person you are entrusting with your health and life. A true partnership with your doctor, like any relationship in life, is worth the time it takes to build.
You may not be able to find a doctor who checks every single box for you, but this list of questions may help you decide what's most important and realistic:
I love working with Paloma Health patients because we have the time and desire to be in true partnership. By offering the best in hypothyroid care, our platform attracts the most caring and motivated patients. If you are interested in consulting with one of our other specialized thyroid doctors or me, please schedule a free consultation to learn more.
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