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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wistful Wednesday

Sick of Doctors?

If you've been to as many doctors as I have over the past eight years alone, both for myself and for my younger daughter, you might find yourself saying, at some point, "I'm so sick of d
octors!" I know I have. Well, at least I've thought it a time or two - unlike my daughter, who has no issue with vocalizing her every thought. (I keep telling myself this is a good thing!) Let's face it, going to the doctor is a stressful thing, even if it's just for a check-up. There's always an underlying fear that they'll find something wrong with you or even misdiagnose you.
We put a lot of trust in the people who care for our medical health, but how many of us take an active part in our own healthcare? How many of us ask questions and take an active role in
the process? Do you - or do you just leave it to your doctor?

Well, now there is a book out, written by Lorene M. Burkhart, that encourages us to take an active part in our own medical care, to become our own health advocates. The book is called Sick of Doctors? A Prescription for Patient Empowerment. Filled with chapters such as Forget the Old Days, Understand the System, and Manage Adversarial Relationships (I could have used that last one about four years ago!), this book is a manual for self advocacy for the average medical consumer. Everything you need to know - and may be afraid to ask - to become an active participant in your own healthcare is right here for you. I'm sure, with my need to see so many doctors, not just for myself but for my younger daughter, that I will be referencing this book again and again in the future. You might want to, as well.

Here's a little something to whet your appetite:

Speak Up

In a study published in the Journal Annals of Internal Medicine, diabetic patients who were taught to be more proactive with their physicians ended up feeling healthier and actually being healthier. Within a month of learning to become more involved and willing to negotiate with their physicians, the patients showed statistically significant improvements in their blood sugar control without an increase in medication.
Doctors learn bedside manner during their schooling, so why can’t we as their patients take some responsibility for improving the relationships we have with our health care providers. Why don’t we speak up? Stop for a moment and think about the difference in mind set between doctors and patients.
 To the doctor, illness is a disease process that can be measured and understood through laboratory tests and clinical observations. To the patient, illness disrupts our life.
 The doctor’s focus is more on keeping up with the rapid advances in medical science than on trying to understand the patient’s feelings and concerns. Yet patient satisfaction comes primarily from a sense of being heard and understood.
 Many doctors do not see the role of physician as listener, but instead view their function more as a human car mechanic: Find it and fix it. Yet patients often feel devalued when their illness is reduced to mechanical process.
 Doctors feel frustrated, even betrayed, when patients withhold pertinent information. Yet patients who use alternative medicine, for example, may not tell their doctors for fear of ridicule or being labeled as flaky or gullible.
In her book, "Claiming Power in Doctor-Patient Talk" (Oxford University Press, 1998), Dr. Nancy Ainsworth-Vaughn, a professor of sociolinguistics and anthropology at Michigan State Unive
rsity, notes that satisfied patients often assume more control of the conversation by asking questions, changing the topic, and telling stories about their personal lives.
In her seven-year examination of successful patient communication strategies, Dr. Ainsworth-Vaughn observed that people often used verbal strategies, such as rhetorical questions and anecdotes as a non-confrontational yet persuasive way to let the physician know what they were thinking and how they were feeling.
What are you supposed to say to the health professional? What have you told everyone within shouting distance about how you, your child, your spouse, your family member feels? If it’s a first appointment with a new doctor, I suggest two approaches. If the doctor is a specialist for a one-time event – maybe heart surgery – you really shouldn’t care if you feel personally compatible. If you’re allotted 15 minutes, you need to ask how
long, how many and how successful they are. If a doctor is suggesting surgery or a procedure … ask, “Would you recommend and do this to your mother?”
Afraid to speak up? Why? What do you think will happen? The doctor will fire you? I don’t think so. Remember, you are the customer and without you, they don’t have a business.

Join us on the Sick of Doctors? Then Do Something About It! virtual tour. To learn more about the tour, visit You can also learn more about Lorene Burkhart and the book at If you would like to be a host on this tour, contact nikki @

Sick of Doctors? Then Do Something About It! - In this groundbreaking book, author Lorene Burkh

art challenges each of us to enter the era of empowered patients by letting go of past practices and embracing outcome-based medical services. Being accountable for one's own body and health is a huge step toward improved medical relationships. She rejects the old authoritarian system of "handing it over" to a doctor as one that is no longer appropriate or wise, and that made its exit when the Internet made its entrance. Using a variety of resources as a guide, Burkhart encourages patients to be their own medical advocates with the ultimate reward being their own good health.

Lorene McCormick Burkhart is a genuine entrepreneur. Her business career spans 40 years and features many notable achievements, which in their time broke traditional business boundaries. From becoming a female executive before the phrase “glass ceiling” was coined to founding her company, Burkhart Network in 2007 at the age of 73, Burkhart is a true trail blaz

er. She’s just published her fifth book Sick of Doctors? Then Do Something About It! A Prescription for Patient Empowerment, with two more book titles scheduled to be published in 2010.

Videos for Sick of Doctors? Then Do Something About It!

Attitude Shift -

What makes this book different? -

Patient Empowerment -

3 Moonbeams (comments):

Melisse Aires said...

This sounds like something I should read. Hubby and I both have chronic health issues so will continue to see doctors for years to come.

Carrie said...

You know, not every doctor appreciates a pro-active patient because there can be misleading information out there and not every doctor will look into it unless it's universally accepted.

For cases like me, the doctor's hands can be tied by the very health insurance you have because it dictates what meds he/she is allowed to prescribe you...

However, I still agree with all of this. Your body is a machine - a living machine - and, like a car, only the driver really knows for sure what's going on with your body.

I know when something's wrong with my car just by listening to the way it sounds. Same thing with the body. Sometimes, our intuition knows better than doctors.

When I go see a new doc, I have a list of things I created in a WORD doc that I hand to the doctor. It tells them much of the current info - meds I'm on, allergies, headache history, primary care physician, all that stuff because I'm damn sick of trying to fit all of the information in those tiny slots on the intake forms. Plus, it saves a lot of time and allows me to bold the really important stuff such as my allergy to latex or my medication allergies.

If I can, I try to write down a detailed explanation of what I'm feeling before I go in because chances are, I'll forget something or say it wrong.

When my husband tells me he's not feeling well, I ask him tons of specific questions to help him narrow down what it is that he's really feeling - the right words are everything when it comes to dealing with the medical profession.

Margay Leah Justice said...

This reminds me of a commercial that used to air here that shows this woman in a restaurant asking the waiter a ton of questions about how everything on the menu is prepared. Then she gets into the doctor's office and the doctor asks, "Any questions?" and of course she says no.

I think this is a good reminder that we all need to take an active part in our healthcare by asking questions and getting involved in the process. If you don't volunteer the information, the doctor will never know what's truly going on and if you don't ask him any questions, you won't truly know what's going on. And you have the right to know - even if it's a matter of insurance. You have a right to know why they will only pay for certain things.