The One Relationship You Definitely Cannot Neglect

doctor and patient imageUnhappy with your primary doctor or specialist for a long time but too busy or unsure what to do about it? 

If you are nodding your head yes, you are not alone. I’ve spoken with hundreds of professional women who say any or all of the following things about changing their doctor:

  • “I don’t have time”
  • “I don’t know where to start”
  • “…well I guess the one I go to isn’t that bad…it’s just that…”

This article won’t help you find a particular doctor who is best for you, but it can help you recognize the most common health mistakes and  get out of your own way about your medical care—and become your own Apple a Day.
I’ve learned from my clients, research participants and my own experiences how easy it is to remain a patient rather than a medical advocate for ourselves.  This quiz addresses women’s important mistakes they make about their doctors—and a secret reason they are at risk for making unwise health decisions.  (More about that secret at the end.)

Women’s Health Care Quiz

1.  My life is so jammed right now that I don’t really have time even to think about changing doctors.

Always    Frequently    Sometimes    Rarely    Never

Unfortunately, so many busy, working women—most especially entrepreneurs—do not have any wiggle room in their lives to search for another doctor.  This delay is a big mistake because it can trap you in an unhealthy health cycle:

Unhappy with doctor

No time to find new one

Go back to current doctor

Get sick but minimize symptoms and believe “I can handle it”

Now too ill to look for new doctor

The only way out of this cycle is to:

  • Look for a new doctor when you are well
  • Make the time
  • Stop believing you are—or need to be—invincible.

2. I tend to use my family doctor or my gynecologist for whatever ails me.

Always    Frequently    Sometimes    Rarely    Never

Your health plan may require you to see your family doctor first for a specialist referral.  And if your doctor hesitates, insist on it!

If your health plan gives you freedom of choice, don’t make the mistake of avoiding to find a specialist.  Women, because of the intimacy with their gynecologist—or even their family doctor—tend to rely on them rather than becoming their own advocate and finding a specialist.
So, why don’t women who are so in charge at work make this mistake?  One of the women in my study captured the core issues when she said:  “I don’t have time to hunt down the right person.  And, it’s hard to admit, I might be a risk-taker in my job, but I need the comfort and reassurance from a doctor I know.”
If that statement sounds like you, then use the trust you have in your primary care physician or gynecologist to get a referral to a specialist.

3.  I feel badly about “breaking up” with my doctor and seeing another doctor.

Always    Frequently    Sometimes    Rarely    Never

Entrepreneurial women lead hectic lives.  They have decisions to make all day, articles to read, meetings to conduct and employees to manage.  They also consult with experts whom they respect—and from whom they want respect.

In the United States, especially, physicians command a lot of respect.  One of my research participants said that she felt “oddly disrespectful” of her doctor when she decided, after more than a year of dissatisfaction, to stop seeing him.  Another said she worried” that he would have a “wrong opinion” of her.

Don’t let the following factors add up to making you stay with a doctor you don’t like:

  • Respecting too much the medical profession or your physician’s expertise
  • Disliking disruption and change in your life—especially with someone of status
  • Hoping the doctor will improve over time
  • Minimizing the doctor’s curtness, inattentiveness, bravado and insensitivity

—-> Staying too long with a doctor you don’t like

Now about that secret I mentioned:  Your management of your healthcare can be re-purposed in your intimate relationships.

In the example above, replace the words doctor and physician with the word boyfriend, partner or spouse.

You might see one of the most common intimate relationship patterns in the love life of an independent woman:  Choosing powerful men who do not treat you with respect, care and warmth.
Women tended to either fall in love with take-charge men for whom the women gave up too much or with ineffective men over whom the women took too much control of him and minimized her deep disappointment in him.

Look at what holds you back from becoming your own medical and life advocate—and your own “apple a day”.

So, do you obey and revere your doctor too much? Or, are you overlooking your dissatisfaction with your doctor?
For more medical information about choosing your physician, I recommend media health spokesperson and author Michelle Katz’s book “Healthcare Made Easy,” which includes a section on choosing your doctor, and Steven Z. Kussin, MD’s “Doctor, Your Patient Will See You Now.”


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