National Doctor’s Day: How to build stronger relationships with your physicians

By Dr. Michael Jacobson, D.O., CHM Medical Director

*Editor’s note: This information was published in the March 2021 issue of Heartfelt Magazine, CHM’s monthly magazine that provides CHM membership-related tips and tricks, medical advice from doctors, testimonies from CHM members, and more. Please refer to the CHM Guidelines and applicable web pages for the most up-to-date information regarding CHM membership, sharing eligibility, and ministry news.*

According to doctorsday.org, National Doctor’s Day is a tradition started by a Georgia physician’s wife in 1933 “to celebrate the contribution of physicians who serve our country by caring for its’ citizens.”

Doctor’s Day is observed annually on March 30. It was on that date in 1942 that Dr. Crawford Long first used ether for general anesthesia. Since then, patients and colleagues send cards and flowers to express gratitude to each other. 

CHM has asked me to provide members with tips for strengthening relationships with their healthcare provider(s). That encouraged me, since building relationships are why 40 years ago, I made my choice to practice family medicine. 

In a 2015 farewell, Dr. Reid Blackwelder,  outgoing Chairman of the American Academy of Family Physicians,  wrote that “being a family physician… is all about relationships.” He said that relationship “is also the foundation on which healthcare reform must be built... the fragmented and siloed care many Americans still receive derives from a failure to respect this core principle.”

I find it quite profound that Dr. Reid, who influenced national leaders, said the answer to our healthcare woes won’t be found in the halls of Congress, but in patient-physician relationships.

Here are three things you can do to strengthen those relationships:

1. Prepare wisely. Write down your questions and offer them to your physician’s staff even before you see your doctor. The staff will understand the principal reason for your visit and can better address your concerns.

2. Similarly, tell your doctor and staff what you’re thinking and feeling, whether about your personal health or your experience receiving care.

3. Express gratefulness. Your primary care doctor works hard and often without hearing much thankfulness. A little gratitude shortens a long day!

References:

https://www.aafp.org/news/blogs/leadervoices/entry/building_relationships_at_core_of.html

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