I just had a personal experience with a doctor with a relative lack of bedside manner, and it was illuminating.
I took my largest organ (skin) to my dermatologist yesterday, as I had a few new problem areas to be looked at. (This was after about a six week wait for this appointment). My skin doesn’t like sun, or apparently bright lights. I digress.
I’ll tell you now they don’t know I’m a doctor there, and that’s okay with me. I haven’t hidden it, but I don’t announce it to anyone, either. (The only people who routinely find out I’m a doc are my barbers, who are a decidedly chatty bunch).
I waited long enough to read a couple of magazine articles, and in came the Dermatologist (Derm) and his assistant, and a PA student. No-one introduced themselves except Derm, and his intro was a grunted “Huhmm. What’s the problem?” I appreciate directness, so I outlined my little problems, and after a thorough exam, during which very very little was asked or answered, he said “I think we need to take those off”. I wholeheartedly agreed.
After 2 more magazine articles Derm reappears with the entourage, asked me to lie down, and without a word starts to numb one of the spots, the one on my right eyelid. He does it with skill (I’d know) but without warning, and all three (two others, all on the face) were taken care of efficiently, and without warning, narrative, etc. It didn’t hurt more than a 1/10 at worst, and the procedure was a success (I hope).
However, Derm’s lack of any appreciable bedside manner has me reevaluating one of my longest-held beliefs, that people don’t really care if their doctor has a great bedside manner, but only really want a doctor who is very competent and does the job right.
And, painfully, I have to look hard at myself. I am, occasionally, a touch cranky. I try very very hard to not be cranky toward my patients, but I’m not in such denial to say I never act cranky with a patient.
Physician, heal thine own bedside manner. Me first.