What’s Going on in Your Doctor’s Head?

You may have heard your computer revving high, consuming RAM while it is working on some tasks in the background while you answer your e-mails or surf the net. A similar process occupies a large part of your doctor’s brain while the two of you are conversing.

That’s why at some point – sometimes it may seem too early in your meeting – your doctor will start interrupting you with focused questioning in our typical clinical style.

These are the diagnostic questions we learned well in medical school and refined through countless patient encounters. At this moment, the doctor is consumed by the hunt to get to the diagnosis as quickly as possible.

We can be thrown off the scent by the interruption of multiple unrelated problems you might bring up. Our hard drives may freeze up like your computer when you open too many windows.

To prevent this brain freeze or to keep your doctor on task – your task, it may be helpful for both patient and doctor to be upfront in setting the agenda and approach to each visit up front, right at the beginning of the appointment. Let’s have more transparency.

Next: understanding the structure of every medical visit.

Do you have some suggestions for how patients and doctors communicate? Please leave your comments here.

Dr. Davidicus Wong is a family physician. His Healthwise column appears regularly in the Burnaby Now, Vancouver Courier, Coquitlam Now and Royal City Record. You can find his Positive Potential Medicine podcasts at wgrnradio.com.


About Davidicus Wong

I am a family physician. I write a weekly newspaper column, Healthwise for the Vancouver Courier, Burnaby Now, Royal City Record and Richmond News.
This entry was posted in patient-doctor relationship, Relationships and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to What’s Going on in Your Doctor’s Head?

  1. Lori Carlyle says:

    Do you have any suggestions if there is no doctor available. My dad is 84 years old and living in a care home in Coquitlam. The resident doctor is leaving in May and it is up to the families to find a new doctor for their loved ones. I have tried a few in the area with no luck. He is unable to walk and needs someone to come to him in the care home. Not sure what will happen when the doctor leaves and I still have not found one for him. My own doctor is fantastic but she is in Burnaby.

    • That’s a difficult challenge, Lori. Finding new ways for patients to find a family doctor is currently being addressed by our health authorities, the Ministry of Health and the Divisions of Family Practice. But until these new solutions are organized, it may be best to ask your own family doctor if he has a colleague in Coquitlam who would be available. Hopefully, the care home will find a house doctor. Long term care facilities commonly have a number of community GPs who already have a large number of patients residing in their facility. These doctors typically make regular visits to these patients and are often willing to take on new residents at the same facility. I hope you find a family physician for your father as I know this is very stressful.

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