Val Jones, MD: Building Awesome Doctor-Patient Relationships

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Building stronger doctor-patient relationships (doctors are people, too!)

An interview with Jenni Grover and Dr. Val Jones about the value (and stategy) of building terrific relationships with healthcare providers. Dr. Val Jones is a graduate of Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation, and the founder of Better Health, LLC, one of the most popular medical blogs. With over 130 contributors, Better Health is a content partner with the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention, the American College of Surgeons, Harvard Health Publications, Diario Medico, and the Columbia Department of Surgery. Find more Val at GetBetterHealth.com.

Connect with Val

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In addition to her work at GetBetterHealth.com, Val is also medical director of admissions, Saint Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute. And she’s an outspoken advocate for smarter healthcare solutions.

Jenni: Hi everybody! This is Jenni Grover of ChronicBabe.com and we are having a conversation today about doctor-patient relationships. This is a part of Lesson 7, on relationships, and today I’m joined by Dr. Val Jones. She’s the founder of GetBetterHealth.com. It’s one of the most popular health blogs online and they have a ton of people who write for it, tons of different perspectives. It’s a place I visit all the time and refer people to, so definitely check it out. Val is also a board-certified physical, medicine, and rehabilitation specialist. I want to welcome you, Val! Thanks for being with us here today.

Val: Thanks Jenni! I’m glad to talk to you.

Jenni: One of the things we all think about as patients is the relationship we have with our healthcare providers or our doctors. I’ve been really lucky: I’ve had the same primary care physician I started with almost 15 years ago. I don’t think that happens very often any more.

Val: No, it doesn’t!

Jenni: I’m very thankful for him and for that opportunity to have continuity with him. But when I first started to find a doctor, when I got sick, it was really challenging. I know a lot of people compare the process of finding a new doctor with kind of diving into the dating pool; do you think this has some accuracy? What do you think about that?

Val: I think that’s totally accurate! And not only am I a doctor, but I’ve also needed doctors, in my life. When I put my patient hat on, I do think of it not dissimilarly… how you want to find someone you can relate to, that you like, that you think really genuinely cares about you and is going to do a good job because they want to see you succeed and are going to take the time to really notice the details. So I think finding a good doctor is a lot like any kind of long-term relationship. And you’ve been in a 15-year one with your primary care physician so you are a success story!

Jenni: It’s like the longest relationship I have besides my sisters and my parents. I have two friends I’ve been friends with longer. It’s kind of incredible. I have a criteria too, similar to the dating pool, which is that all my physicians are really good-looking. (Laughter) I don’t know how that happens; it wasn’t really planned, I joke… but they all are fairly good-looking people. If we put them all on a billboard they would look like a big awesome fabulous team.

Val: Wow.

Jenni: I know. I’m sure some of them are going to listen to this and think I’m a dork, but that’s fine.

Val: Well, you’re complimenting them. At least you aren’t saying, “My physicians are super nerds!”

Jenni: Right, I know. So along that same vein, when we go on our first date, we have all kinds of questions. What are some of the questions you counsel people to ask a new doctor for the first time? Like when you’re meeting someone as a prospect or maybe your insurance has said, “Hey, this is who you get.” Either way, you have a lot of questions. What are some of those early questions people should be asking?

Val: I think, Jenni, the overarching principle here with the question issue is that doctors really are people too. And we’re nervous, a little bit, when we meet a new patient and we don’t know who they are and what they’re about and what they need from us. We’re sort of feeling like we want to get to know them.

The first thing out of your mouth when you meet someone at a cocktail party probably is “where did you go to school?” And the tendency with a new doctor is to ask “how many of these procedures have you done?” That’s a good question, but I probably wouldn’t lead with it. It just makes the doctor feel like they’re being attacked right away, and being judged. You know, we have feelings.

And so I prefer a little softer approach. Just giving you some insight into the medical mind, where a doctor is probably coming from, the stresses in their lives and the things that they worry about… if you sort of know where they’re coming from, you’ll naturally be a little bit more patient and understanding toward them, and that’ll be reciprocated.

A couple of questions that came to mind that I thought might be kind of disarming and nice—that doctors don’t often hear—were things like “How would you like me to track my progress for you?”

Jenni: What a great idea, yeah!

Val: Because then the patient is saying, “Look, you know, I really want to partner with you, I want to get better, I’m not going to just listen to you and then run away and never do anything that you suggest. I’m in it, and I don’t want to be in your face or too naggy or clingy or whatever, you know, I just want you to tell me how it’s best to contact you and how best to report my progress.”

I think that kind of question can be a great disarming one that would really set the tone for a healthy long-term relationship with the patient. Similar questions that sort of follow from that would be things like “What’s the best way to contact you if I have questions or updates?” Maybe you want to ask how frequently the doctor thinks you should meet, just to set expectations: is this going to be a once-a-month meeting that will be needed, or is it every six months, or every year? It kind of really depends on the situation, the type of doctor you’re seeing, the issue that you have, et cetera.

And then maybe ask the doctor who else should be on your medical team, in case you hadn’t thought, “Oh, an endocrinologist might be someone who could really help me.” Because depending on how long you’ve had your condition or concern, there’s a learning curve, and sometimes patients don’t realize there are specialists. Like a diabetes nurse educator, who could be fantastic as a primary liaison for someone with newly diagnosed diabetes. But they just didn’t think of it. So asking the doctor like, “Who else should be on my team? How do you see my team working out?” might be really helpful.

And then also, “Which other doctors do you recommend?” If you already know what specialists you need to see and you haven’t picked one out, if you like your doctor—well, I can tell you, birds of a feather do seem to flock together—so a nice doctor has probably got nice doctor friends, too.

Jenni: I’ve found that so much! But I never knew to ask that last question: who else should be on my team? I didn’t ask that for the first many years. I had fibromyalgia—I was diagnosed at 25—and then my doctor sent me to a rheumatologist to confirm the diagnosis. I went through a few years of doubting and researching and whatever.

Now I know to ask that question. When something pops up—like I was recently diagnosed with a thyroid condition—I know to ask “Okay, so do I need to see any kind of specialist?” And I don’t, right now, which is great, but I never knew to ask that question, so I’m glad that you reminded us of that, because it’s a good thing.

Val: And sometimes they may say, “Well, right now, I think you’ve got everybody on the team you need, but if this gets worse, or if this happened, or if you notice this, the next step would be blank, then the next step would be to see the endocrinologist,” for example. So they can give you a sense of what to expect, what to look for, and certain triggers that should encourage you to get back in touch.

So that’s another question that you could ask: “What would be the reasons why I should call you?” Because a lot of patients don’t know. I find that in some of my work—I’ve worked with a company called eDocAmerica, and we answer questions for patients via email. They get access to us, we respond usually within three hours, and we don’t practice medicine, we don’t prescribe or diagnose over the Internet, but I find that a lot of patients are just asking questions like “Is this normal? Is this an emergency? Is this a concern?” You know? Because they’re not sure.

There’s a lot of sort of wisdom that comes through years of medical practice. You see something that, to you, is obviously an emergency, and to the patient, they’re just like “What? I feel okay right this minute.” And you’re thinking “Yeah, but you’re going to collapse in an hour, so get in here!”

Jenni: I know for me, for a while, I really obsessed over every little thing about my body, because I had never been really sick before. And then I got sick and suddenly I was examining every freckle and bump and calling my doctor all the time and saying, “Is this okay? Is this okay?” And he finally said, “Look. You’ve got to calm down. You’ve got to take it down a notch. You’re freaking out.”

He gave me some good guidelines of what kinds of things I should be worried about. Because I was kind of overdoing it and going the other way. To that end, you talked about email contact, when we have physicians that we’re really specifically in touch with… email is becoming such a popular way to communicate with healthcare providers, but everyone’s got different ways to do it, and limits. What’s a good way to figure that out with your doctor? Is it good to just say “Can I email you?” or “How often can I email you?” or things like that?

Val: You know, this is difficult. This is a difficult area, and here’s why: Because physicians, in many cases, don’t get compensated by insurance companies for work they do over email. That is changing, that’s been a problem.

So in a sense, if you look at it from the doctor’s perspective, when you say, “can I email you?” you’re basically saying “can I get you to do some work for free? Would you like to stay after hours at your office and write to me and never get compensated for that?” And that’s what they’re hearing when you say “can you email me?”

But they know it’s ridiculous to say “no, you can’t contact me.” So they feel obligated, but then they feel like, ugh, here’s another thing that I won’t be able to get compensated for. Here’s more of my time that I’m going to be investing in my patients—which I want to do—but I can’t get reimbursed for it. So just understand that doctors are in a difficult place.

The second part that’s a little tricky is, with the medical liability issues, and HIPAA, and the legal system in this country, doctors are terrified of inadvertently releasing personal information about a patient and then getting in trouble or getting sued. It’s so scary; anything we write down can be used in a court of law against us. We just want to do our job and we want to help people and help our patient and we want them to have access to our records, but every time a piece of information leaves our hands, we’re kind of like, “Oh my gosh, what’s gonna happen to us next?!”

Jenni: Yeah, wow.

Val: So just know that, number one, your doctor may not get paid to work with you if you go through certain platforms like email. And number two, your doctor might get sued and lose their medical license, be harassed by lawyers, whatever, if they give you your data in the wrong way.

So we’re scared, we’re tired, and we just wanna do the right thing and don’t know how to do it. But if you know what? You know, most of us really, if we had our druthers, would just be like, “Girl, just call me. Twitter. Let’s have an email conversation and let’s make this easy for each other.” But in a lot of situations it’s not quite that simple.

That being said, and knowing that the doctor is completely stressed about all of this, what you can just say is, “I understand that you may not get compensated for emails, but I wonder, have you found a way that we could communicate via email? Because that would be super convenient for me.” And then just let them know you’re aware that this could be an issue, that you’d love to email them but you want to make sure they’re compensated for the work they do with you. And just see what their answer is.

They may say “oh yeah, it used to be that way, but there’s a code I can use, and it’s been working, so yes, I’d be happy to email you.” Or you can say, “I also know that keeping medical records is a priority for you, do you have a safe way to transfer information via email?” Some people have encrypted private email processes that work for that. So feel them out and let them know you’re thinking about where they're coming from before you just say, “Hey, can I email you?” And they say, “No!” And you think, “What a bad doctor!”

Jenni: That makes so much sense, because you’re being respectful of this person who’s going to help you, you’re respecting their time and their capabilities, just the same way you want to be respected as a patient.

Val: Exactly.

Jenni: You want them to hear you, you want them to understand you. You’re right—we could get into a whole conversation about how the healthcare system is set up, and how it creates these insane boundaries between people, and challenges, and… this isn’t the time or place for that.

But I do feel like so often we feel separated from our healthcare providers, like we’re on two sides of a river or something. So I think a certain amount of respect and compassion as human beings for each other can take us so far.

Val: And you know, when you genuinely like someone, you will definitely go out of your way for them. And it works; it’s just as true in Starbucks when you get a coffee as it is with your relationship with your doctor. I think it was Maya Angelou, the poet, who said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

It’s so true, and it’s the same way with doctors and patients. Doctors may not quite remember all the details of the condition a patient has, if they’re super-busy and they’ve seen a lot of patients and they’ve only seen you once before, but they’ll remember if you were hostile to them. They won’t know what your conditions are or your medical background, but they’ll remember, oh yeah, that’s the one that threatened to sue me already! Or they remember the anxiety that they felt in meeting you.

Or you: When you see the doctor, and you’re like, okay, that was the doctor that, I don’t remember what he taught me about my condition, but I know he was short with me, he made me feel anxious, I felt like he didn’t know what he was talking about and then he hurried me out the door. That’s why it’s so important to set the tone. Both people need to, both the doctor and the patient.

Jenni: I think patients should feel more empowered to do that, and not in a really bossy, bitchy way.

Val: Yeah, no.

Jenni: To that end, if someone really likes you, they’ll go out of their way for you. What kinds of qualities should we be looking for in our healthcare providers? I mean, is it almost like, similar to the qualities you would want in a friend? It’s weird, because it’s a professional relationship, but it’s such an intimate relationship.

Val: Yeah, you know, the answer to that is complicated. There are some basic things you would want, I can tell you what I would like, but that might be because I have a certain personality and I know what grooves with me.

It’s funny, my fiancée is very different than I am. He’s this really tough guy, and what he looks for in a doctor is someone who has tough love, who’s going to say it to him straight, who’s not gonna mess around. He doesn’t want any niceties—get to the point, don’t waste my time—that’s what he’s looking for. Which sounds, to me, kind of nutty because that’s not what I want, but I respect there are different people with different personalities who want different things.

One of the qualities I really like is a person who—dare I say—I don’t mean to make light of a serious condition, but in lay terms, we say OCD, when people are kind of compulsive, we joke about that. Of course, it is a real issue for people who have OCD. But what we’re trying to say is when people are very detail-oriented and they’re very compulsive about getting things done and they just feel like at the end of the day, their day isn’t done if they haven’t checked that last lab value and they haven’t been thorough about following up on patients X, Y, and Z, and getting the results that are coming in, or calling that family member or just going the extra mile.

I like physicians who are very thorough and detail-oriented and compulsive about following things up, because so many things can get lost. In this healthcare system, it’s like, unbelievable what falls through the cracks. I don’t know if it’s because there are too many cooks in the kitchen, or no one’s in charge, or if there are too many experts doing too many things, not knowing what the other guy is doing.

But if you have a quarterback, so to speak, a primary care physician, who is really on the ball and kind of compulsive about the details, that is great. Other than being compulsive about the details and making sure they’re following up on all of your results and communicating effectively to you, I think a good sense of humor can go a long way.

Jenni: You know I’m so with you on that.

Val: Because life sucks sometimes! It just does. It’s just hard and bad things keep happening to people. And in many cases it’s not their fault, and it’s just so sad and frustrating. To have someone who can have a sense of humor about it, or at least be compassionate and understand, you know? To be able to sit there and really empathize is super-important. So humor, empathy, and OCD. Those are my three top qualities.

Jenni: I love it. That’s a good list! For me, I mean, humor and just a certain kind of compassion are so important. That’s just how I roll. Yes, there are days when I’m freaked out and scared and I’m really serious or I’m upset and I’m crying. There have definitely been visits like that, but for the most part, when I go in, if I can’t laugh about certain things, I’m in trouble.

So when we think about all those qualities—let’s say we’ve found the perfect doctor (or not perfect, because nobody’s perfect, but you know) Doctor Right—and we want to be as prepared as we can be and show up in the best way. What kinds of things can we do as patients to make sure we’re showing up for appointments and making the best use of our time and keeping our healthcare things coordinated?

Val: Three words: write it down. When you’re preparing to go to your doctor’s visit, take some time out of your day or the day before to think it through: what do I need to tell my doctor? What does he or she really need to know since the last time we met? And what are they going to ask me? And you probably know what they’re going to ask you; there are things we always ask. What medications are you taking? Has anything changed?

Jenni: I keep a list of all my meds on my phone because I know every appointment they’re going to ask me, so I can just hand them the list. I keep it updated and I hand them my phone and say “Here’s the list, check it against your records.” It keeps me from wasting five minutes of writing everything down or listing everything off for them.

Val: That’s an excellent, excellent strategy. And it depends on the condition that you have, what they’re going to ask you. A neurologist is going to ask you certain questions, again and again and again, that a cardiologist is not.

But if you have a chronic disease, you know what those questions are, you become familiar with them. So just know to expect it and have a good sense of humor about it, because you’ll feel like you’re dealing with a person who has memory loss. Every time you go in you’re like, “Yes, I know, you’re going to ask me this.” It’s just, again, they're not trying to torture you, it’s just the way the paperwork and the system is set up, where you have to log certain things in order to be able to submit, to get reimbursed for the time you spent, and there are things you have to document every time.

Even though it feels like a rare form of torture and they’re all out to drive you nuts, honestly it’s not that, it’s just that everybody has to get through it, and if you know in advance it’s going to happen you can take it in stride.

Just make sure you write down things like your med list, that you know what your specialist is going to ask you, and take good notes about anything that’s changed. If there’s something you’ve noticed that’s a concern, write it down. And try to be, if you can—this saves time—try not to be too tangential. That will get you out the door more quickly.

When I say tangential I mean, patients will sometimes tell you the story of what’s going on but then they’ll say, off the top of my head, “So my knee has been hurting more than usual, and so when I told my Aunt Sally about my knee hurting, she thought it would be a good idea for me to walk the dog extra far, because… and then I think the dog found and ate a dead rat when I was on the street, and it really worried me, and I had to take him to the vet, and then the vet said that he thought there might have been rat poison on the street, and then…”

Do you see what I’m saying? So you’re the knee specialist and you’re listening to this and you’re like…

Jenni: “I actually just want to know what it feels like when you get out of bed…”

Val: Yeah, and you feel like such a cad because you don’t want to say, “Listen, I can’t hear your story about the rat right now because we really just need to talk about your knee.” As a warm, empathic kind of person you don’t want to interrupt them but at the same time, you only have a limited amount of time and there are other people in the waiting room. You’ve got someone who just fractured their rib or whatever and they’re having a hard time with the pain and they can’t breathe. You’ve got all that going in the background and the patient is telling a very tangential story.

If you can think about, just understand that, as much as the doctor likes you as a person and wants to know what’s going on, out of respect for your time and the other patients that are out there, think about: what are the really critical issues you want to get across? And then if you guys have extra time and there’s no one in the waiting room and you want to shoot the breeze, go for it. But just be aware that tangential stories sometimes are a little hard.

Jenni: I’m such a talker, so now I’m thinking, like, oh no. I wonder if they’re like “Here comes Jenni, the time waster! Awesome, book an extra 15 minutes, make sure you bill her for the stories.”

Val: Well, if they get paid for it, I guess it’s okay!

Jenni: Ha! I don’t know if they are. I better be cool about it. I’d never thought about it but that makes so much sense.

So what happens when you have a doctor that you’re just not into—to go with the dating analogy—I tell people all the time that you can fire your doctor, you can make changes. I know that with insurance that limits our options but, how do you feel about that? Are there things patients should do first? Is it like when you’re leaving a job and you want to clear out your desk a little first? Do you want to try and get your medical records before you do that? I mean, how do you handle that?

Val: Yeah, probably! (laughter)

Jenni: Because if you fire them, are they gonna hold your records hostage?

Val: They might! I mean, they shouldn’t, obviously, but I’m not going to vouch for every doctor. Like I said, doctors are people too, and some of them are not… very happy when they feel that they’ve just been in an unpleasant situation and a patient is leaving.

Maybe it won’t even be the doctor, maybe the doctor will be like “Oh, you win some, you lose some,” but then the front desk person or the admin will be like “Oh, I’ll show her, she’s gonna ditch Doctor Smith, well, I’m not going to lift a finger to help her get her records.” That can happen.

Jenni: So how could we ask for our records if we’re going to do that? I mean, I’m not advocating that people go out and fire all their doctors, but I know it does happen, because I get the emails! People email me all the time, saying “I’m really unhappy with my doctor, what do I do?”

Val: Yeah. You know, the insurance thing is really an issue, and I’ve lived in large metropolitan centers most of my adult life, and in that situation, you have so many options, even with insurance, that switching to another doctor is quite feasible. But imagine if you’re in a rural area and there’s really only one rheumatologist or one specialist or whatever within 300 miles of where you live. What are you going to do if you don’t like that person?

Jenni: I’ve certainly talked to people who are in that situation. So…

Val: I don’t have a brilliant answer for that, except to say you should not stay with a doctor who you think is incompetent. If they maybe lack a little social grace, maybe you give them a pass if you don’t have any options for changing, you try to work it out. It’s like a relationship. It’s not always perfect. But you keep with it.

The main thing is you want to make sure that they're not incompetent, they’re not missing a diagnosis, or treating you improperly. And that, again, can be difficult, because as a layperson, how do you know if your mechanic is doing the right thing on your car? Not to say that doctors are mechanics but in a sense, the complexity level is just as mysterious in some cases. I know nothing about my car engine and a mechanic can be like, “There’s a floobidoobydo missing from the flubidub.” And I’d be like, “Oh! Okay. Cool. I’ll write you a check.”

Jenni: Yeah, it’s hard sometimes.

Val: It’s just so hard. I guess I would say, if you’re in an area where you have the luxury of having multiple options, then by all means, feel free to explore other experts, other doctors.

If you aren’t in an area where there are options, then I would say, try to stick it out, and be friendly, and have an honest conversation with your doctor to try to heal whatever rift there might have been. But if you think your doctor is incompetent or you’re worried about what they're doing, or they’re not doing the right thing, then you’re going to have to figure out where the next specialist is.

There are services, actually, where you can get a second opinion. If you have a complicated issue and you’re not sure the doctor is doing the right thing by you, there’s a company called BestDoctors.com, which is really interesting. It may be difficult to access unless your employer has purchased their service for you, but they do great work. They have experts all over the country in different fields, including oncology, endocrinology, orthopedics. They’ll look at your medical records, and render an opinion about whether or not what’s going on with you and what your doctor is doing seem to be within the realm of reasonable, or if there are other options you should think about. So I’m a big fan of that. I’m not entirely sure if an individual could go and purchase that for themselves, but I do know that they offer that.

Then there’s eDocAmerica.com, where I work, and we’re primary care-based, so we don’t have extensive expertise in oncology and more complex challenging fields that, if you’re not a specialist in that field it’s hard for you to really be able to asses. But that’s available for purchase on an individual basis, and for a certain fee per month you get unlimited access to primary care physicians who can render opinions. They can’t diagnose you or treat you, but they can certainly give you information, give you a sense of, “Well, you should read this…” or “A standard of care in that situation is this…” And that’s super-helpful.

Jenni: That sounds like a great resource. That sounds like a great backup resource, especially for those people who are in the rural areas and maybe have fewer options.

Val: Absolutely.

Jenni: So, to kind of dovetail all this together, I think we’re talking about relationships—not just transactional relationships, but they’re more intimate, with our healthcare providers. We share really personal stuff and it’s really vital for our happiness and wellbeing. I always try to treat my physicians with respect and I do things like at Christmas, everybody gets a holiday card from me. When I’ve had particularly frightening issues, I’ve written thank-you notes. When I had a wrist surgery a few years ago after an accident, I wrote a thank-you note to the surgeon, and he expressed to me how awesome that is; he said it’s rare for him to get stuff like that.

I think those are optimal behaviors for keeping our patient-doctor relationships really strong. Are there any other things we haven’t touched on that you think people should think about in keeping the relationship solid?

Val: Well, I commend you first of all, in writing that thank-you note; that would be great to receive. I’m thinking, “Wow, if my patients sent me thank-you notes, that would be so great!”

Jenni: More people should do it!

Val: People are all on Twitter now, so we don’t write any notes any more. But that was a great thought.

I think there’s a spectrum of behavior. There could be an overdo-it side to it. This hasn’t happened to me, but in some cases patients have been perhaps a little strange or inappropriately gracious, meaning giving big gifts again and again, and that makes the doctor feel really awkward. Because, you know, we’re doing our job. We’re supposed to do what we're doing. Giving us gifts for it—we know you mean well, but it can get awkward, because there’s this professional boundary.

But thank-you notes, are I think, the perfect tone—that is great. Excessive gift-giving may be a little awkward.

And then there are instances of never appreciating everything and just bolting and never giving the doctor the sense that, you know, you feel like you’re making progress or you’re glad that you talked, offering no feedback whatsoever. That might be a little sad.

Jenni: I guess it’s almost like the golden rule. Treat people how you’d want to be treated.

Val: I think that’s right. And I think open and honest communication is really important. The funny thing is, you know what patients always do? They will talk to you for the entire session and then two minutes before the end, they’ll tell you why they’re really there. I don’t know why, everybody does it that way.

I think there’s some anxiety about the reason why they’re really there, where they feel shy or embarrassed or they don’t want to say it, like “The real reason I’m here is because I’ve got a new ulcer on my butt.” Or whatever. And you’re like “Oh, well let’s take a look at that.” It’s universal.

Ask any doctor and they’ll tell you that the real reason why the person came to see them comes out 60 seconds before they leave. And that’s not fair to the patient, because then you don’t get the chance to explore with them more about it, or let them talk about it and help you figure out the next best step. Because then you’re running around thinking, “Oh, I thought this was about knee pain, but it’s about something else!”

If you know in your heart that you’re really going to go see the doctor about X reason, and it’s embarrassing, or you’re shy or nervous or scared to say something because it might be serious and you’re not ready to deal with it, I would say just have an honest conversation with yourself prior to going in. Just say to yourself look, this doctor wants to help me, he or she is here to help me, and they won’t be able to do a good job if I wait to the end to talk. Just get up your courage and say, “Look, the reason why I’m here today is X.” That would be really helpful.

It’s scary to be sick, it’s scary to maybe be sick and not know, and to be waiting for that determination. There’s a lot of fear factor in medicine. Even though it’s hard to put your heart out there and talk about what your issue is. Maybe it’s a sexual dysfunction that’s been bothering you in your relationship, and it’s related to your condition. I would just say, have courage—and you’ll get the best help.

Jenni: Yeah. That sounds like great advice. I know sometimes I’m a little nervous, even I get nervous, and I’m a big boisterous person! So this is great advice.

Val, I have so enjoyed talking to you today! I’m a power user of the healthcare system and I learned so much today, so I know everybody listening learned a ton. I really appreciate you sharing your time and expertise with us.

Val: Oh, great. Well, I just wanted to share from my heart, the honest truth about where doctors are, and what they really think, and how to get the most out of your relationship with them and every session that you’re with them.

Jenni: Thank you so much, it’s really valuable. In case anyone joined us a little late, I just want to remind folks that we’ve been talking with Dr. Val Jones. She’s the founder of GetBetterHealth.com, definitely one of the most popular health blogs online—I check it all the time, she’s a board certified physical, medicine, and rehabilitation specialist, and she has given us some awesome, awesome advice on handling doctor-patient relationships, which is part of Lesson 7. Thanks again, Val!

Val: Thank you!

Jenni: And I hope everybody listening has enjoyed this! And if you’re following on in a linear fashion, we’re going to be talking about career issues in the next lesson. Thanks for being here and I look forward to hearing your voice again soon!

11 episodes available. A new episode about every day averaging 30 mins duration .