1) Make sure your waiting room is filled with ancient, tattered magazines in which Michael Jackson lives and George W. Bush is still president.
2) Seat patients closely together so they can all get equally sprayed by the guy with sneezing fits.
3) To further your “building patience in your patients” program, make sure they wait a long, long time. A full hour past the appointed time, for example, should be passed without interruption. This will show your patient you are overworked, highly popular, and engaged in fascinating work that necessitates her wait.
4) When your nurse calls your patient’s name, make sure she offers no apology whatsoever, even though seasons have passed and eras ended during her long wait.
5) You, of course, should make no apology, either. And by the way, saying a simple “hello” is for unimaginative chumps and dentists. Instead, greet patient with the warmly personal and amusing line, “We’re going to need a urine specimen from you today. Think you can do it?” (Another advantage of the long wait: Patients enter with full bladders!)
6) Make sure your nurse charges in and demands to know when patient’s last mammogram was, even though the patient had a bilateral mastectomy in 1995. Who needs to check patient records before you talk to her, anyway?
7) Ignore patient’s superb(!) blood pressure, her really great cholesterol scores, her general good health. Instead, chide her about her weight gain of four pounds over the past year. (Four pounds!) Female patients, after all, are often motivated by shame.
8) At the end of the day, sit down and read about latest healthcare plan. Shake your head, wondering and worrying whether it will mean the downfall of all those close doctor-patient relationships you’ve nurtured so carefully over the years.
(Copyright 2009 by Ruth Pennebaker)