“Feeling of tiredness, shaky hands, re-occurring palpitations and very fast metabolism? Oh NO! My symptoms are coming back again.” That is what I thought to myself after 7 months of remission after being treated for hyperthyroidism. I thought about the disease getting a little out of control again and was a little preoccupied by the fact of being in a foreign country and not being familiar with the process of seeking medical attention. However, I thought “how hard could it be? All I need to do is make an appointment with my designated family doctor and go.” Well, a couple days later when I had my appointment, I was in the waiting room for about ten minutes—not too bad—before the doctor called me into her office. Once I sat down, I started explaining the reason for my visit; I listed all my symptoms, told her I had been diagnosed back in 2010 and had been on a specific medication for a while before my doctor gave me the ‘OK’ to go on remission. Right after that moment is when I was extremely surprised about the rest of my interaction with the doctor. First off, she reprimanded me for not going to the doctor for seven months, I tried explaining that back in my country I would get blood work done every month to monitor my hormone levels but ever since I had moved to a different country, I had not gotten any work done. My excuses were not valid for her and continued scolding me for being so irresponsible with my health—I felt like I was a child all over again. Then, she proceeded to write me a prescription to reduce my palpitations and gave me a request to get lab work done the next morning, finally after that, she escorted me out of her office; the entire interaction from entering to leaving the room only lasted six minutes. I was astonished by the fact that I was never touched by a nurse or provider: no one got my pulse, heard my heart, took my weight, nothing. I felt like I was simply another number waiting to get a prescription and nothing more.
After having a lot of experience as a patient in primary and specialty care, and becoming quite familiar academically with disease management, I was able to see that this doctor was neither following primary care methods nor disease management methods—she was merely a robot designed to write prescriptions for which ever condition she came in contact with. My previous experience as a patient consisted in getting my pulse, blood pressure and weight taken by a nurse, and then getting physically examined and discussing my condition with a doctor for over 20 minutes, and more if necessary.
I believe that in order for a single interaction between a provider and their patient to be successful or efficient, there must be a better, friendlier and less-authoritarian relationship. A patient is not to simply follow commands from a provider and assume a subordinate and submissive role when it comes to taking care of his or her health. It is essential that there is a collaborative, supportive, informative and educational interaction so that both individuals, with the help of other necessary team members and family, can create a health plan. This will definitely lead to a more satisfied and grateful patient, and a happier doctor as well. Health care is not only about getting some numbers on a piece of paper after performing lab work, but it is so much more than that; it also implicates various social aspects that need to be taken into consideration before, during and after the provision on medical attention.