What’s the deal?
Arrogance? Ignorance? Being human?
Arrogance and ignorance tend to hold hands. What I’m referring to here is the god complex that is housed in many physicians. Yes, they tend to be incredible human beings, but even they don’t know everything. And simply saying “I don’t know, I’ll have to look that up,” terrifies them. And so oftentimes the patient brings up a concept or idea they came across in doing their own homework, an idea which the demigod in the white lab coat had never heard of and it is met with ridicule.
This is simply the classic case of someone being down on what they’re not up on. It’s more probable that this is the case when the physician becomes irritated, emotional or lashes out at you as the patient. These are often not good teammates if you have a complex illness you’re dealing with.
Your doc is only human
However, the above is not always the case. When I say “being human,” I mean just that. Have you ever gotten a text message you didn’t respond to? Maybe you didn’t mean to ignore it, but you just had a ton on your mind. You were distracted. So too is it this way for the physician. We care for hundreds of patients, have to stay up to date on the latest practice guidelines, research and then if we’re real go-getters, the alternative modalities (which more and more patients are after), plus continuing medical education… all of this on top of everything else we do as regular people. It is sometimes overwhelming. So often your physician may have come off as dismissive when it was more they’re just expressing their limitations as a human being.
What about you as the patient?
When patients get to us, oftentimes they’ve ran the gauntlet and have been unable to find a provider that is a good fit and they often make it seem like doctors are mean, rude and dismissive. I don’t know if what is reported to me by these patients is true. I have no reason to automatically accept concerns about other physicians as true, since I have not dealt with these physicians personally. I do know, however, that the ignorant and arrogant types certainly exist!
To be fair, my impression is that a substantial portion of patients who have concerns about their other providers tendency to be dismissive tend to have difficult temperaments to deal with themselves.
Remember, it takes two
I am not pointing the finger at anyone, but merely highlighting the fact that it’s a two way street!
Remember. Medicine is a team sport. It takes physician and patient. Both parties need to have reverence for one another and recognize a successful outcome hinges on a strong therapeutic relationship.
Physicians need to recognize their patients as intelligent and capable of making good decisions when provided the information they need. Patients need to remember that the doctor is only human. Consider your physician’s limitations and shortcomings and reflect on your own as well!
Billy Mitchell is a Naturopathic Physician practicing in Gilbert, Arizona. His areas of interest include rheumatology and environmental medicine.