Taking A Professional Approach With Your Medical Team

Growing up I was often referred to as “Pollyanna” as I naturally played the glad game, always looking for the positive in a situation.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am that I was born with that personality trait given the health issues that have been thrown at me.

As I moved into adulthood I was also referred to as “Instant Sam”…still am actually. I like to get on with things, be ahead of schedule and have anything that can be possibly organised, organised with military precision. That trait has certainly helped me in my business and personal life in many areas.

Let’s Begin Getting Organised

While I can’t organise what my body decides to do in terms of my health, I can be organised with managing the consequences, from prescription management, doctors appointments, regular testing reminders etc.
The key though I think, to staying on top of a complex illness, is building a really good working relationship with your medical team.

The Good GP – Your Advocate

One of the most integral relationships is with your GP. Sticking to one GP if at all possible just makes life so much easier when health is complicated.

My GP has travelled this idiopathic, chronic and complex path with me for over 10 years.We discuss my health, we throw around ideas and together, at times, we have uncovered more than even my Specialists were able to.

It is a partnership, one where I can ask him questions, discuss my own theories and know he is listening. He respects this is my body and my battle and he is there to help me with it.

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The Specialists – They Are Your Team/ Your Colleagues

The other key is making sure the numerous Specialists working on your case, are working together.

It’s not an easy task as they often have strong egos and like to think they are number one in your world. It is so important though to point out to your Specialists, the names of other Medical professionals you would like them to correspond with.

This includes Allied Health professionals like Physiotherapists, Dietitians, Occupational Therapists etc.
This makes all your appointments so much easier as, if information is shared, your Medical team can begin to join the dots. Not only can this ensure a quicker diagnosis, it can also prevent misdiagnosis.

You’re The Business Owner

Think of it as you being the Business Owner and your Doctors are your Stakeholders. In essence you are their Client, their Customer. Without your business they won’t have a business.

This way of thinking puts a whole different spin on how to approach the Doctor/Patient relationship doesn’t it. I have been blessed with a great team of Specialists who I now share a friend/colleague connection with, rather than the traditional formal Doctor/Patient relationship. It has taken time and a lot of work on my part to develop though.

I’ve spoken to many people with complex illnesses who haven’t liked the way their Specialist has spoken to them on one visit, so they’ve tried to find another and then another, in the effort to find answers and affirmation.

We need to remember our Doctors get tired, have bad days and put in enormous hours. They may have seen a patient before us who was difficult, perhaps incredibly ill and all of these factors affect our Doctors. They are human after all.

I don’t expect them to have all the answers and the cures. I expect them to work with me. I expect them to allow me to ask questions and to raise my concerns. I expect them to explain clearly a treatment plan.

This may include having no treatment plan but having an explanation as to why, is just as important as walking away with a prescription or a surgery date.

A Business Approach

My working background is in Executive Management. If I was meeting with a colleague or a business stakeholder to discuss my business and gain support for a business initiative, I would go into that meeting prepared.

I approach my Medical appointments in the same way.
My Business approach in each scenario would include:

  1. High Level Business Summary (Health Overview)
  2. Quick Fact List of Business Needs/Concept (Current Symptoms)
  3. Detailed examples of why change is required (How Symptoms impact my daily life)
  4. AGREED Action Plan (Treatment Plan)

There are also things I wouldn’t do in a Business Meeting and I also wouldn’t do in a meeting with my Doctors.

They include:

  • I wouldn’t be late
  • I wouldn’t cry
  • I wouldn’t assume I know everything
  • I wouldn’t be afraid to question thoughts and concepts (Note: Using open questions like, “How would you manage this disease if you were in my situation”, or “What are the next steps in my treatment or ongoing care?” Open questions generate conversation)
  • I wouldn’t have unrealistic expectations
  • I wouldn’t attend the meeting unprepared.

Relationships Take Time – Even With Doctors

My medical team knows I will only call them if I really can’t manage my symptoms. They have all been very clear about the “danger zone” for me, when I need to get myself to emergency or call them asap, as happened a while ago with my inflamed bowel.

My Colorectal Surgeon hadn’t heard from me for 2 years, but as soon as I rang his reception, his receptionist remembered me. She was so lovely and genuinely excited about catching up with me again ( I had seen her every few weeks for a number of years, while undergoing various bowel surgeries, so we had built a good rapport over that time).

The result of building a good relationship over time, was she called my Colorectal Surgeon while he was in Surgery and explained my symptoms to him. I expected an appointment to be made, instead I received a phone call 30 mins later from his receptionist, saying I was to be admitted to hospital straight away.

When my Colorectal Surgeon visited me later in the day he said;

“I know you too well and when you call it is something really important. I’ve told my team whenever Sam calls, they are to swing into action and look after you”

Now this Surgeon has put many people off with his abrupt manner and direct attitude but he is a brilliant Doctor and I have worked hard at building a relationship with him and trying to understand his modus operandi. It’s been hard work but worth it, as it’s been rewarded by reciprocated loyalty, respect and trust.

The Professional Patient

I’m seeing a new Specialist soon. It is always a little daunting starting off with someone new.

My story is long and it’s important to succinctly give all the facts.

The new Specialist needs a clear picture of my overall health, to help assess how all my diseases may be working together.

I’ll attend my appointment armed with my “business plan”….my medication list, surgical list, current diagnosis, current symptoms and the names of my existing Specialists.

As hard as seeing a new Specialist is for me, I can’t help but feel sorry for the Doctor. Complex patients are never easy. We often present as a medical conundrum.

For that reason alone, I think it’s so important that we take a “professional” approach to each medical appointment.

Let’s face it, once we have a chronic illness, we inevitably become “Professional” Patients.

Taking a business approach with our medical team puts us, to some degree, in the driver’s seat. It allows us a little control in a situation that so often seems out of control.

You Are The Boss!

If nothing else, remember this last point……you are employing your Doctors. You are the Boss!

A good Boss always finds ways to engage in a positive and constructive way with their employees. It’s no different when we employ a Doctor to be on our team. They have to be a good fit, and we need to develop a good working relationship with them to achieve a successful outcome.

I really hope taking a professional approach with your medical team, makes the never-ending carousel of medical appointments a little less crazy, and much more ordered.

Ultimately I hope and pray this approach produces a positive outcome, allowing you to feel a sense of control and hope for the future.

Take care

Sam

If you’re looking for genuine support, care, understanding & friendship, you are so welcome to join my closed Facebook support forum, Medical Musings with Friends . It’s a safe place to connect with others living with chronic & complex diseases, who truly understand the daily challenges. A warm welcome awaits.

I’m also a Contributor at “The Mighty”. You can check out my published articles at My Author Page

I also write @ Blogs by Christian Women

I’m a member of the Chronic Illness Bloggers Network the Grace Girls Facebook Group and the Salt and Light Linkup Group

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10 thoughts on “Taking A Professional Approach With Your Medical Team

  1. I hire consultants to advise me about my health. I try to get the best ones, i like listening to them, Sometimes I defer to them, and sometimes resist. Since they are my consultants I cannot blame them for wrong moves. Yes they might give me bad advice, and when they do I move on. But even when they do give me bad advice, no one makes me do it.

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  2. This is a great article Sam thank you. I have started adopting a more professional relationship with my doctors and have found some of them respond well to this way of communicating with them. Thank you again. Love, Lynda 💞 xxx

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  3. I hate starting over with a new specialist. In some ways it can be good, because you know it’s a fresh pair of eyes, a new chance to get some help if you weren’t getting anywhere before, a little hope. But it’s also exhausting going over it all and you never know what this person will be like or how hard you may have to fight for your help. And as you say, in your case you have a complex history with complex issues, which makes it all the more challenging. That’s not to say the appointment can go brilliantly, it’s just a lot to go through and a lot of hope being put on this specialist to not only be on your side, but to fully appreciate your health issues.

    Absolutely right in trying to see yourself as the boss. Assertive and professional, definitely the best way to go if you can manage it.

    Great post, Sam. Wishing you all the best with that new specialist, too!  ♥
    Caz xx

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    1. Thanks so much Caz. Appointment went so well. It was with a Geneticist and I’m very excited that he is taking on my case to try and find out if my genes might give us some more specific answers as to what’s driving my bone disease. Watch this space.
      Hope you are doing as well as possible xx💞

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  4. Great post with useful tips as always, Sam! I also learned this the long hard way and now ‘fire’ doctors that refuse to work with my other doctors and me as a team. We need doctors who care and are willing to listen and actually do their jobs properly, as we’re in it for the long haul. Any consequences to our health aren’t for them to bear, but us.

    Liked by 1 person

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