For more than 35 years the most difficult part of being a good physician boils down to two traits-listening and being nonjudgmental. Perhaps other than their spouses, women confide their deepest, most terrifying fears and emotions to me every day. Very few professionals are privy to the information I hear daily. It never ceases to amaze me the incredible hardships and daily travails my patients must endure just to get through the day!
The first trait-listening, is not easy! The action of listening without diversion or distraction takes a lot of effort and concentration. Listening builds trust with my patients; they are immediately relieved and reassured when I nod knowingly and understand how they feel. Specifically, they want validation that what they are experiencing is either normal or not, common or unusual. Listening without interrupting in mid –sentence takes will power, but when my patients have told me everything I need to know, I pause, reflect, then respond, and my patients respect that.
Often I hear my patients tell me “I trust you”- and I believe this because I look at my patients eye to eye, face to face without a computer interfering with the critical dialogue that must happen to engender a meaningful experience for me and my patients. After all, women want information and reassurance that their complaints and medical problems are common, treatable and not life threatening!
Being nonjudgmental is the 2nd trait-one no less difficult than listening. Every day I see patients from all walks of life, from all economic strata and all levels of intelligence. There is always a never ending littany of problems , whether it comes from work, family,or emotional trauma . Some of my patients have personality disorders, and some cannot cope with the headache and heart ache of daily living. Stress and worry predominate. Often, it is obvious to me what should be done, but it can be difficult to tactfully explain what reckless behavior has caused.
Watching and listening to the passing parade and the never ending stories every day in my office is never dull, often hilarious and sad at the same time, but immensely satisfying! This alone gets me out of bed every day. Two traits-listening intensely without being judgmental are essential and necessary for any doctor to behave well and care wonderfully for his patientsLeave a reply →