What qualities do you want in a doctor?

Everything Changes — By on July 17, 2009 at 12:33 am


I was floored when I asked him and he said ‘yes’. I’m talking about my doctor R. Michael Tuttle, MD. We’re appearing together on Sunday on the Group Room radio show. A two-hour radio special all about thyroid cancer and young adults? It’s a prefect match. He’s one of the top thyroid cancer docs in the country, and he’s on staff at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. And, I’m a thyroid cancer queen (nine years and counting baby!) So why was I so floored?

I’ve had a slew of docs in my cancer career. Most have been top of their game. Their skills were unparalleled, they were leaders in research, and trend setters in their field. Most, however, would not answer my questions in their office, let alone answer calls from strangers on a Sunday afternoon radio show. They were all about tumor size, location, and blood test results, and could care less about my patient experience.

I was okay with this. I’m a super empowered person and compensated from elsewhere for what my docs would not give me. I’ve had arrogant, out of touch doctors who made me want to cry and still I’ve used them because I hire docs for their skills not their personalities.

But with Dr. Tuttle, I now see that a good doctor-patient relationship goes beyond my 15 minutes of face time. I have greater peace of mind and less anxiety about my cancer in general because I get from Tuttle the information I need. I also know that when patients have better communication with our doctors we are able to better follow their instructions for taking medications and adhering to treatment plans.

If I have to go doc shopping in the future, I will still choose skills over personality and communication style. But for now, I’m damn glad that I get to have it all.

Have you ever had to choose between a doc with great skills or a doc with a great personality? Which did you choose and was it a smart choice? Do you have any questions about thyroid cancer and young adults you would like us to answer on Sunday’s show – medical, emotional, or social life stuff?

To learn more about how young adult cancer patients have handled their docs’ personalities, read Everything Changes: The Insider’s Guide to Cancer in Your 20s and 30s.

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What qualities do you want in a doctor?

Please check out Kairol’s book “Everything Changes: The Insider’s Guide to Cancer in Your 20’s and 30’s” at Amazon.com by clicking here.

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