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Why Choosing the Right Doctor Should Be More Like Dating

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When it comes to dating, the age-old saying applies: you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince. I believe the same sentiment can be applied to finding the right doctor: you have to face a lot of ignorance before you find a medical professional who understands.

When we go on dates we all have a set of criteria that we loosely look for. A lot of the time it’s related to these three values:

1. Are they empathetic; do they listen and care about me?
2. Do they respect me, my body and my values/goals?
3. Are they positive and proud of my successes, yet support me through failures?

This “criteria” as such will be different for us all, but for me, these are values I treasure. Funnily enough, I think these are the same values we should apply to finding the right doctor/health professional. Whilst many of us will ditch a date if they make sexist, ableist or otherwise inappropriate remarks, so many of us sit through uncomfortable remark after uncomfortable remark in medical appointments.

So why isn’t finding the right health professional more like dating?

While many health professions may “look” excellent on paper (in terms of qualifications, experience, etc.), just as a Tinder profile can be misleading, we shouldn’t have to settle in a patient-doctor relationship we’re not comfortable with. Consultations with doctors can be uncomfortable for a variety of reasons: arrogance, ignorance, weird/inappropriate sense of humor or even a lack of respect. For me, these would be red lights in a relationship…yet I know I have dreaded appointments and sat through the awkwardness of a consultation where you don’t feel like you’re being listened to, respected or taken seriously and face insurmountable negativity.

Why should we have to compromise our values because we fear we deserve the negativity or believe we are not going to find anything better? Much like we give partners second chances, I feel it is important to learn from the knowledge of our health care professionals and educate individuals when ignorant comments are made; however, I do not believe we should stay in a situation we wouldn’t accept in our personal lives.

If a partner told me my pain was because teenage girls are overly sensitive, I wouldn’t accept a comment like that.

If they told me my medication wasn’t necessary and my disease didn’t exist, I would laugh at them.

If they told me I should give up on my career aspiration and choose an easier route more “suited to my disability,” I would find a way to prove them wrong.

Yet, I have gritted my teeth and remained silent through comments just like these from healthcare professionals. It’s time we all see the important role we have within our medical journeys; we should never have to compromise our values or ambitions or accept anything less than we would in our everyday lives, just because we’re sick. Doctors play a huge role in our journeys, but we as patients, along with our values, are just as important, too.

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Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: December 8, 2016
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