Does the Word “Doctor” Make You Uncomfortable? How to Avoid Walking in Cold

For many people, the word “doctor” is a loaded one. It carries with it a lot of baggage. On the one hand, these people do have a great deal of knowledge in their field of expertise and should be respected for the skill they bring to their work. In many cases, that respect gets translated into an assumption that doctors are somehow in a separate category from the rest of us lowly humans, and that is simply not true.

If you want to feel more comfortable when you reach out to doctors, it’s going to take some practice (pun intended). Being an introvert can be used to your advantage in a world that values traits normally associated with extroverts. While you may find making the initial contact with a physician harder than a more outgoing personality type, once you have been able to get in touch with the doctor, you can use your superior listening skills and soft-spoken manner to your advantage.

Do Your Homework Before Meeting the Doctor

One strategy that will help you feel more comfortable before you meet a doctor is to find out some general information about the profession and the type of education and training that physicians must complete before they are allowed to obtain a license. Taking the time to find out about the process will make the profession (and the people in it) seem a lot less intimidating to you. You can also find out about individual doctors in your area by checking out an online physicians’ directory. This is the best way to find information about local doctors in your area. The directory would list board-certified physicians who have been approved by a professional association, such as the American Board of Medical Specialties. All the doctors listed in this type of directory have been pre-screened so you have some assurance that they meet a minimum level of competence before you ever set foot inside their office or an examining room.

When You Meet the Doctor

Once you find yourself face to face with the doctor, whether you are meeting for business reasons or seeing the physician as a patient, try to put this person’t job title aside. Instead of getting hung up on the word “doctor,” try to think of him or her as “a person who…” treats patients or helps people who have a certain type of health issue. This shift in thinking alone should help to make you feel more comfortable when interacting with the doctor.

Have a List of Questions Ready

Since you probably like to think things through in your head anyway, it’s not a bad idea to have a list of questions or points you want to cover written down in advance. Since most doctors have multiple demands on their time, they will appreciate the fact that you are well prepared for you appointment.

If you are really well organized and feel comfortable doing so, you may want to hand the doctor your note and have him or her read it over. This would be the fastest way to get your message across. It may be the most comfortable one if you are an introvert, too, since you would tend to feel more comfortable with the written word.

Use Your Superior Listening Skills

Your superior listening skills will be an advantage when you are meeting with a doctor. Since you will have taken the time to “prep” before your appointment, you will be better able to listen to what the physician is trying to tell you, as well as they way he or she shares the information.

Even though doctors tend to be busy people, it doesn’t mean you should feel rushed or intimidated in your meeting. Do ask questions to make sure that you have understood the information correctly. If you are meeting for business purposes, add a comment that shows you understand something about the doctor’s practice or the particular challenges he or she is facing. In a situation where you are the patient, it’s perfectly appropriate for you to take notes while the doctor is speaking and for you to sum up what has been discussed before you leave. Be sure to ask whether your understanding is correct. If you follow these suggestions, you will find it easier to interact with doctors, even if you consider yourself to be an introvert. 

I’ve been asked by some of my own doctors if I would either talk with their patients as a group, or do a session for their students if they are in a studying hospital, because of being my own patient advocate and doing the research to ask questions and listen. What about you? Can these actionable steps help you? How do you communicate with your doctor? Would you comment below?

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Comments

  1. Too many times a patient won’t ask enough, if any, question when they’re with their doctor. They’re with an expert, right? I believe this is what causes them so much angst about seeing a doctor. Then they will often come away with worry that may in fact not be in warranted, or worst, relief that may be ill placed. Just my thoughts. :)
    Susan Cooper recently posted…Easy Dark Chocolate Truffles: RecipeMy Profile

  2. Excellent post, and I think the most important part is to have your questions ready. I have more Dr. visits than I can remember over the past 13 yrs and I never ever go without m questions. You just can’t remember everything, and particularly if it’s a specialist you only see infrequently it’s crucial. If the diagnosis has the potential to be serious, then definitely take someone with you. If it is bad news you won’t remember what they tell you afterwards. Thanks so much for the post Lily & Pat.
    A.K.Andrew recently posted…Toni Morrison on Hope in Beloved: MusemediumMy Profile

  3. Susan this doctor is almost god complex, I find it in many elderly; even my parents. But for my generation, we are so wired that the doctor better be too.

  4. Nowadays A.K. my questions are written on a note in my iPhone. My memory works too!

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