Chapter 17: Making Friends with the Clinic Staff
To cure sometimes, to relieve often, to comfort always - Hippocrates
The clinic staff members are the first hurdle you need to cross in order to contact your doctor --- which is why they are often referred to as gatekeepers. Your relationship with the staff will often determine how easily you have access to your doctor, which is why its well worth spending a little time and energy making sure the staff members are on your side!
Choosing the right doctor is a little like choosing the right life partner! Although its true youre marrying only one person, all the in-laws come along as part of the package. Similarly, when you select a primary care physician, you automatically select his staff as well , so make sure you like them, as they will play an important role in your interactions with the doctor! The personality of the staff is often very similar to that of the doctor, and friendly, caring and competent physicians tend to hire friendly, caring and competent employees.
Remember that being a gatekeeper for a busy practice isnt easy. Pressurized by patients on the one hand, and the doctor on the other a gatekeepers job can be tough. For instance, whenever the doctor is running behind its usually the gatekeeper who (undeservedly) receives the nasty stares, and side remarks complaints.
Thoughtful patients should therefore, make it a point to express appreciation to the doctors gatekeeper, as well as to the doctor. Acknowledge that they have demanding jobs. Not only will this brighten their day (which is, in large part, filled with unrewarding tasks), it will also increase the likelihood of their going the extra mile for you when you need their services.
HOW TO MAKE YOUR DOCTORS RECEPTIONIST THINK YOURE TERRIFIC
If youre well organizes and well prepared when you phone or visit your doctors clinic, youll win the respect and appreciation of the receptionist, which will make him that much more helpful in helping you get the best medical care. For example, when you telephone with regard to a medical problem, the following guidelines can be very useful:
- Introduce yourself. State briefly (in one sentence) why youre calling. (Ive had fever of 101° for three days and I was wondering if theres something else I should be doing about it apart from taking Crocin). If you dont think your problem is serious enough to merit a visit to the doctor, say so.
- Be prepared to answer the following questions (use prepared notes!): · What are the specific symptoms? · When (what day/what time) did the symptoms start? · What have you done for relief, if anything? (Refer to notes for names of any prescribed medication or over-the-counter medication you may have taken). · What is the main cause of your anxiety? How would you like to be helped?
- Keep a pencil or pen and paper handy to take notes.
Similarly, when you plan a visit to the clinic, the following points should be kept in mind.
- Make sure you fix an appointment. Try to schedule it well in advance and call again to confirm it.
- Try to reach the clinic on time, since the doctors time (and yours!) is precious.
- Make sure you have brought along all your records and documents.
- Try to cooperate with the staff. For example, if the doctor is running late, rather than pepper them persistently with questions, read a book or magazine while waiting.
- Try to learn the names of the staff members. If you treat them like VIPs, youll be treated like one as well!