Like all doctors, I’m a lousy patient. My doctor is a lovely man, but going to see him? That’s right there with weighing myself, getting a flu shot and doing my taxes, and behind celebrating Thanksgiving with the in-laws and getting a root canal.
And I’m not the only one. If I had a dollar for every patient who told me they hate doctors (no offense), I’d be long retired.
If you’re like us, I have a tip for you. Choose a woman doctor.
- You’ll be more likely to survive a heart attack. Female doctors have lower patient mortality and readmission rates. To me, that matters. I hate hospital food and I detest funerals.
- They don’t wear ties. Ties are relics. They belong with the dinosaurs. They indicate that the wearer is somebody. In doctors, that’s somebody covered with germs. A tie is Noah’s ark for germs looking for a home. Don’t let that home be you.
- They listen longer. Today’s doctors are too busy to listen to their patients. The average male doctor interrupts a patient after 47 seconds, but female doctors will let you speak for three whole minutes.
- They tend to be more thorough. Whenever my husband cleans the kitchen, there’s stuff left for me to do. He’s good with the big picture – but the details? He doesn’t see the breadcrumbs. I do. Women doctors are more likely to deal with every detail and leave no loose ends.
- They’re better at multitasking, just as men are better at compartmentalizing. Your woman doctor will remember your blood pressure, your work note and the script for Viagra even if her pager goes off, the Patriots won, and she’s late for dinner.
- They follow guidelines. That’s good. Guidelines are evidence-based and meant to improve your medical care.
- They communicate better, providing patient-centered care. Instead of telling you what to do, they’ll work with you to get you the care you need.
- They’re more likely to include your family in your care.
- They have smaller hands. Why does that matter? Try getting a pelvic or a rectal exam from somebody built like a linebacker, and you’ll understand.
- They’ll counsel you on your health behaviors. They’ll work with you on stopping smoking, losing weight or drinking less. You don’t want to hear that. Neither do I. But a healthy lifestyle will help you live longer and improve your quality of life.
- They provide better quality of care in diabetes.
- They provide emotional support. So do men doctors, of course, but it’s not the same. I hug my patients when they need it. My male colleagues give fist bumps. That works with toddlers, but not when giving bad news.
- They always wash their hands after they pee.
Rada Jones is an Emergency Doc in Upstate NY where she lives with her husband, Steve, and his black deaf cat Paxil. They are in the (slow) process of moving to Thailand. She authored three ER thrillers, OVERDOSE, MERCY, and POISON.