Top 7 Things Patients Expect from Doctors

Hospitals Getting Noisier, Threatening Patient

If you ever felt like your doctor was trying to push you out of the examination room before you had a chance to explain your condition, you are not alone.

A new study from the Mayo Clinic shows that most people agree on what makes a good doctor and it definitely isn't one who hurries through a visit.

A doctor's people skills can affect a patient's emotional response and recovery very positively or very negatively, research shows.

Based on the new study, which surveyed 192 patients, the authors concluded that a model physician should be ...

  • Confident
  • Empathetic
  • Humane
  • Personal
  • Forthright
  • Respectful
  • Thorough

What every patient wants is a physician who pays them personal attention, said James Li, a physician at the Mayo Clinic Division of Allergic Diseases. Li is helping to develop programs for teaching physicians how to strengthen their interactions with patients.

"It's really the duty and obligation of the medical community to design a health care system so that physicians are best able to exhibit those qualities for the good of the patient," he said.

Griping over medical treatment is nothing new, of course.

And many patients nowadays are directed to urgent care facilities or, for lack of good insurance, forced to go to emergency rooms for problems that used to be handled by a family doctor. In either case, wait times can be hours and actual face time with a doctor might be just seconds.

Web sites such as RateMDs, HealthGrades and a host of others allow patients to vent on their physician's punctuality, helpfulness, knowledge and other traits.

The days when doctors remembered their patients' names might no longer exist, but medical schools can fill in this societal crack by incorporating the seven behavioral traits into their training, Li said.

"If patients have opportunities to tell their stories, to be asked questions and have the physician verbalize understanding of what's been shared, it leaves them feeling like they were heard," Li said.

The findings are detailed in the March issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Sara Goudarzi
Sara Goudarzi is a Brooklyn writer and poet and covers all that piques her curiosity, from cosmology to climate change to the intersection of art and science. Sara holds an M.A. from New York University, Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, and an M.S. from Rutgers University. She teaches writing at NYU and is at work on a first novel in which literature is garnished with science.