Real listening is the foundation of any good doctor-patient relationship. It allows patients to tell their story, which is essential in any healing partnership. Having a physician who really listens to you and your story is so important during an illness or difficult period of life. One of the most compassionate gifts I can give a patient is my attention thru listening.
We all want someone who cares enough to take the time to listen to our deepest fears and sorrows. Someone who won’t judge us, won’t belittle us, won’t blame us. It means that physicians need to stay mentally clear and calm when a patient is telling their story. Most times, we think we are listening, but actually we are only thinking about what to say next or how the story affects our own lives. Physicians need to step outside their thoughts and value the healing power of listening.
Sadly, listening is taking a back seat in medicine, along with the doctor-patient relationship. The reasons are many but, from my perspective, the major one is that so many physicians are becoming employed by hospitals. Employed physicians have no choice but to change their loyalties from patients to their employers. Hospital administrators aren’t interested in the art of listening. They are only interested in the art of generating revenue. This transformation has severely eroded the doctor-patient relationship. It has damaged patient care.
As a holistic physician, I am reminded often by patients how much they appreciate the relaxed, non-hurried visit to my office, where first visits sometimes last an hour. Many patients comment that they feel better just from telling their story. This type of patient centered care is at the heart of the dramatic rise in visits to alternate health care professionals, such as massage therapists, personal trainers or energy healers, all who generally spend an hour with their patients. These patients really value that hour of listening, that hour of caring. Physicians rarely spend an hour, half hour or even 15 minutes with a patient.
Unfortunately for patients, the new medical model for many physicians, especially hospital employed ones, is the eight minute office visit. A visit with very little eye contact while electronic medical records are typed. A test or two is ordered, maybe a procedure performed and a couple of prescriptions written. No time for a patient to tell their story. No time for real listening. No time for genuine healing. Just enough time for the art of generating revenue.
Dr. Allan Bazzoli, MD is a practitioner of Acupuncture, Holistic Medicine, and Physical Medicine in the Mt. Vernon/Central Ohio and Columbus area. He is available for speaking engagements on a variety of holistic medical topics. This material can be distributed free to the public as long as there is no remuneration and credit is given to the author.