How To Be A Great Patient: A Doctor’s Wish List

Given the state of our broken health care system, I feel like we doctors donít have much right to ask our patients how to behave, since most of us are falling far short of how our patients would prefer we behaved. As a patient, you may feel rushed, unheard, and condescended upon. You may feel that your intuition is neglected and your questions arenít answered. If you feel this way, let me apologize on behalf of my profession. SORRY!

Nevertheless, I was asked by†CNN to contribute to†an article they wrote by giving them a list of what patients do that botches their own care. I donít practice the kind of managed care medicine most doctors are forced to practice these days. Now, I spend 1 Ĺ hours with my clients, helping them bolster their whole health.

But back when I was expected to see 40 patients a day, hereís what I would have loved to ask of my patients.† So in case you want to make your doctor love you forever, here are a few tips for how you would make me swoon if you were my patient!

How To Make Me Swoon As A Patient

  • Tell me the truth- always. I promise I wonít judge you, as long as you donít lie to me or withhold the information I need to treat you the best way I can. If youíre gay, tell me. If you drink a bottle of tequila every night, I need to know. If youíre having an affair and not using condoms, let me know.
  • Question me. If the treatment plan I suggest doesnít resonate with the intuitive wisdom of your Inner Healer, please tell me, instead of ignoring what I suggest. I know many of you are programmed not to question your doctor, but weíre here to help and we canít read your mind, so you need to communicate if you donít agree with a plan we suggest. If youíre not going to get that mammogram, admit it to me. If youíre not going to take that antidepressant, tell me you wonít. If youíre willing to question my authority, we can marry my suggestions with your intuition and collectively agree on a plan you will actually follow.
  • Comply. If youíve questioned me and weíve agreed to a treatment plan, please follow through and do what youíve agreed to do. And if you donít, please tell me so I donít mistakenly assume the treatment failed. I wonít jump all over you. I just need to know.
  • Accept personal responsibility. If you donít comply, and something goes wrong, please donít blame me. And if you sign up to incur a possible risk and youíve been warned of this risk (pregnancy is a great example), donít sue me if a known risk happens to you. Sometimes bad things happen to good people, and itís not my fault.
  • Partner with me. Donít hand over all your power to me. Be an equal partner with me at the healing round table. Trust me to guide you, but be willing to do your part.
  • Bring a list of questions. I want to make sure we get your questions answered, and I understand that you often forget, then feel frustrated after Iíve left the room because I didnít meet all your needs.
  • Bring any supplements you take in a bag with you. I may not know the name of what youíre taking, but if I can look at the ingredients, then I can determine whether your supplements might be causing issues or interactions.
  • Donít call me at 3am for a chronic problem. While you might think weíre up waiting by the phone when weíre on call, weíre not, so protect our sleep time so we can function well the next day. If itís an emergency, absolutely, call us! But if youíve had a belly ache for three weeks, call during office hours, not when weíre home sleeping.
  • Understand how limited our time in the office is. Tell the receptionist the truth about why youíre making your appointment. Donít schedule a routine physical if you think you have a yeast infection. Youíll likely need two appointments- one for your yeast infection evaluation and one for your annual exam. As much as we want to serve all your needs in one visit, when managed care forces us to see 40 patients/day, we simply must put restraints on how long we spend with each patient in order to keep our other patients from waiting.
  • Turn off your cell phone. I know itís unfair to ask, since I might be responding to my pager in the midst of your visit. But pretty please do me a favor and power down while Iím in the room with you.
  • Show up on time. Once again, I know itís unfair, since I might be forced to make you wait because of emergencies that interfere with my schedule. But if youíre late, others will have to wait even longer. I promise to try to be on time if you will.
  • Fill out all your paperwork beforehand. If I send you forms to fill out ahead of time, please have them filled out completely when you arrive. If you have to spend 15 minutes filling out forms, it disrupts my schedule and may force other patients to wait unnecessarily.
  • If youíre experiencing symptoms, keep a journal and a calendar before you come to see me. Write down when you experience the symptom, what makes it better, what makes it worse, how long youíve had it, describe it in detail, explain whether youíve had it before, and be as specific as you can so I can help you.
  • Bring your records. If you have other medical records that will help me care for you, bring a physical copy with you. Faxes go haywire, and we can wind up wasting hours trying to track down records, so be an empowered patient and keep a complete copy of your medical records so you can bring them with you.

Now itís your turn! Whatís your wish list for doctors? How could we make you swoon?

All ears,


Lissa Rankin, MD: Founder of†,†motivational speaker, and author of†Whatís Up Down There? Questions Youíd Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend and Encaustic Art: The Complete Guide To Creating Fine Art With Wax.

Learn more about†Lissa Rankin here.



Batista c.
Past Member 2 years ago

This is really an excellent blog as well as its content.
Alpha Levo

Sheena M.
Sheena M.3 years ago

Hurrah, that’s what I was trying to get for, just what a stuff Presented at this blog!! Thanks admin of the site. Halfway house delray beach

Brianna K.
Past Member 7 years ago

I have been fortunate enough to have some amazing doctors. What I wouldn't give to find one like them in my current area.

Michele Wilkinson

Thank you

Abbe A.
Azaima A7 years ago

It's important to take responsibility for our care instead of giving all our power away to the practitioner.

Rachel Murray
Rachel M7 years ago

Thank you!

Krista R.
Krista R7 years ago

Would be nice to not be treated like patient number 162 of the day and throw me out to the office after 5 minutes with your hand out for the $275 I owe you for that 5 minutes.

Faith Purdy
Faith Purdy8 years ago

well i know what i'm doing next time i see my doctor!

Irene P.
Irene P8 years ago

I NOW have the best Doctor in the world.. he recently Diagnosed me with Chronic myofascial Pain and Fibromyalgia.. after 5 yrs of being in pain.. it was a relief to know what it was and that I have a dr. understands and listens. it's important.

Tana M.
Tana D8 years ago

These are all excellent suggestions for patients. Now if only all doctors could be more like you and actually listen to their patients. I've had docs that I've gone to and done most of these tips and they would just blow me off thinking they knew more than I did. In fact, in 2 cases, I knew more than the doc about why I was there (PCOS).