Magazine article USA TODAY

Clues That You May Need a New Doctor

Magazine article USA TODAY

Clues That You May Need a New Doctor

Article excerpt

"Too many people settle for unsatisfying relationships with their doctors," suggests Warren M. Hoffman, a consultant with Personnel Decisions International (PDI), Minneapolis, Minn. "No one likes to change doctors, but some people remain loyal to their doctors much longer than they should."

How can you tell if you have a good relationship with your physician? According to a survey conducted by PDI, most patients look for a combination of clinical and communication skills. When asked to rant the importance of 36 characteristics, four of the top 10 were interpersonal skills related to listening and communicating.

Hoffman, who teaches communication skills to physicians at the University of Minnesota Medical School, suggests asking these questions to determine if your physician is committed to communicating with you as a person as well as treating you as a patient:

Does your doctor treat you as a whole person? You're more than just a hip or a lung. Look for one who shows an interest in you beyond the specific physical symptom he or she is treating.

Does your physician listen? If the doctor does 90% of the talking, that's not a good sign. Those with good listening skills feed back what they've heard and ask for further confirmation or clarification before diagnosing your problem and making treatment recommendations.

Does your doctor acknowledge your emotional needs? Emotional needs are just as real as physical ones. …

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