1) Know their name. I’m not kidding. This person is making (as opposed to recommending/presenting options?) decisions about your body and mind. She/he is slicing you open with a knife or is poking around in your vagina; Dr. K-something did what to you?
2) Remind them it’s your body and mind. In other words, you’re the one making decisions and they ought to be presenting options your way. If you feel lost and would like their opinion, then ask, but handing over control of the only body you have in this life to “that tall guy with big glasses” does not a happy partnership make.
3) Respect goes both ways. There are various factors that contribute to the almost worship-like respect that is granted to physicians (I’m not a physician, I’m a midwife, I promise you that’s not bitterness in my voice, midwives are above such things) but physicians are human, not God, they make mistakes and have weaknesses like we all do. Respect them for their hard work and dedication to the profession (and hopefully to you as well), but more importantly, expect them to respect you as a human being who is granting them the privilege of working with you.
4) Accept that sometimes, we just don’t know what’s wrong with you. We are not all-knowing masters of the universe, even if some of us think we are. We need to consult colleagues, reference materials, refer out to specialists, etc. Don’t doubt us, have faith, and remember that the times you should be worried are when providers cannot admit they don’t know or, even more dangerously, make mistakes and hide them. Please see #3 for further information regarding God and such.
5) Communicate your needs, worries, and concerns. As an advanced practice nurse I know how comfortable patients feel talking with nurses as opposed to their physicians. Let’s work on that. We’re all in this together, trying to make the world a healthier place. Nurses, Doctors, Physician’s Assistants, Midwives, Nurse Practitioners and a whole assortment of healthcare professionals are here for you, but we ALL need to hear what you have to say. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking up then ask yourself, why? What is it about this relationship that causes me to restrain my voice? Can I do something about that? Can I mend this relationship? Most providers want to provide the best care they can for you, but may not know what you need beyond the checking off of symptoms. Try speaking up, we want to hear your story. Communication, as in all relationships, is key.
Susana Vega believes in this crazy idea that honest communication, respect, and love will bring us peace. Besides practicing as a newbie Certified Nurse-Midwife in Northern Virginia, USA she loves to tweet so stop by and say hello Susana the Midwife@SusanaMV6.