As though we’re 79 and not 29, a friend and I were recently discussing how hard it is to find a good doctor. By good doctor I mean one that is caring and professional, who takes the time to listen and understand.
Not the doctors that you usually get who are rude, impatient and unfriendly, who act like you’re inconveniencing them. They probably went through medical school thinking they would never have to use people skills at the end of it and are probably now in a state of severe shock. While they drive their BMW home to their beachfront mansion each night, wondering why their patients can’t just self diagnose and bugger off.
I should clarify that I understand completely that doctors are short of time and they’re not going to dedicate a whole heap of time for a scratched finger. Especially not when other patients have been late or no-shows and they’re now running behind and they need to see everyone before they can finally go home. Maybe the surgery is short staffed. Maybe another patient took up more time than they were appointed.
I was reminded of the shortage of Good Doctors again today. I’ve been sick – not life threatening, just inconvenient and unpleasant. My normal doctor is on holidays (it took me 10 years to find a fantastic doctor) and with a pre-Christmas rush, I couldn’t get into my normal surgery at all. So I went to a walk-in doctor.
Which, you know, says it all.
I was in the doctors room for literally under 2 minutes. I’d barely even begun to describe my problems when he interrupted me.
“Did you go to work today?”
“Do you need a certificate for work?”
His phone started ringing. “Have the next few days off, rest, go see your normal doctor.” He gave me the certificate, picked up the phone and that was it.
I get that because he’s not my usual doctor there’s probably limited help he can give me. It’s probably not worth his time to refer me for tests and do anything apart from check my blood pressure. But somehow it felt like a cop out too. I think it got on my nerves a bit because I’ve experienced this with regular doctors, until I found the holy grail of doctors.
These doctors who summon you regally, spend under five minutes with you and then dismiss you.
Five minutes if you’re lucky!
So to make myself feel better I’ve come up with several likely scenarios.
“Doctor, I’ve lost feeling in my legs…”
“Hold on.” The phone rings and the doctor picks it up. “Yes?
“Hello, Doctor. You don’t need to know my name but you can call me Dave if you like. I have placed 20 bombs through your office. In order to stop them from going off, you must see 50 patients within ten minutes. No more, no less. If you go over, the bombs will explode. If you go under, the bombs will explode. Have I made myself clear? Yes? Good.”
The doctor hangs up the phone.
“So about my legs…”
“Doctor, I have a pus filled rash in my ear…”
“Ah yes that sounds like an Aural Dissociation Transmission Clutch Load Bearing Waffle Halitosis Mayonnaisia. A very mild case.”
“What should I do?”
“Come back in a week if you figure out what I said, otherwise symptoms usually go away after awhile. Here’s a doctors certificate.”
“Doctor, I’m getting severe headaches and explosions in my brain…”
“That’s very serious. I’m going to write you a referral to Google. May I recommend WebMD?”
“Doctor, I’m going blind…”
Doctor starts pushing big red button under his desk.
“…At first my vision was blurry and then I was getting tunnel vision…”
He stabs at the red button a few more times, then the phone starts ringing.
“Hold on please. Yes?”
“Doctor, this is reception. Your emergency ejector seat is broken.”
“I see. Tell Mr Smith that he’s required for a follow up appointment straight away.”
“The Ejector Seat Company can’t come until Friday.”
“No, I don’t issue scripts for addictive drugs.”
“Would you like me to see if they can come earlier?”
“That would be good.” The doctor hangs up and turns wearily to his patient. “You were saying?”
Finally, a demonstration of my beautiful drawing skills…