Karen Nash is a medical reporter and media consultant based in Monroeville, PA.
“I don’t expect appreciation... But I believe patients do appreciate what we do, and it’s nice to receive thanks," says one urologist.
Urology Times reached out to three urologists (selected randomly) and asked them each the following question: Do you feel appreciated by your patients and the public?
“Generally, yes. I work in both a university hospital and the county hospital, so it’s a mix of different populations of patients. I do cancer, so the majority of patients are very appreciative.
The only caveat is the landscape of health care is changing so dramatically. We try to be independent and solve problems, but we have to wear different hats-cost-effectiveness and productivity, and that stresses out the urologist. It’s not causing bad outcomes, but it may affect the customer service.
So patients have a high regard for us, but when they get that huge bill, they may not like the physician or the hospital.
I believe the public fantasizes a bit in terms of seeing medical shows on TV. They think it’s a glamorous life; it’s actually pretty normal in a very stressful way, because we’re taking care of people’s lives and the quality of their lives.
We may cure cancers, but patients may have to adapt to a new normal, and that is sometimes difficult. Sometimes expectations are not met, or patients’ expectations are different than our expectations, sometimes because of what they see on TV. The expectations of pretreatment may not match expectations post-treatment and that becomes an issue.
It does seem to differ through the generations. Senior patients are much more appreciative. As you mature, I believe you end up having a different perspective.”
Fernando Kim, MD
Next:"We see two extremes among patients, with the vast majority in the middle."“Being a Veterans Hospital, we have a unique population. We see two extremes among patients, with the vast majority in the middle. On one side are patients who are extremely appreciative of everything that’s done for them. Frequently, these are the guys who have service-related problems who deserve the very best care we can offer. The flip side is, frankly, people who may have a significant number of complaints about care of which the majority are unfounded.
As chief, I receive these complaints. One patient was listed as a white male because his name and everything indicated that. He was actually Hispanic. That was his example of his poor treatment. I tried to correct mistakes done outside of the VA, but he didn’t accept that either. Perhaps part of the VA’s problem is that it’s mostly free; patients may not appreciate what they’re getting.
Delays getting appointments are overblown. It takes 2-3 months to get into my non-VA doctor’s office. Guys are seen here within 2 weeks or so, within days. If care is turned over from the VA and patients can go anywhere, they might come running back to the VA very quickly.”
Lester N. Krawitt, MD
“I don’t expect appreciation. We should feel fortunate for any thanks we get from patients, because, as a physician, it’s my job to take care of patients. But I believe patients do appreciate what we do, and it’s nice to receive thanks.
My patients are not like the ones on television; I don’t feel we’re asked inappropriate questions or are unappreciated.
I don’t have a metric to compare how my patients’ appreciation has changed over the past 15 to 20 years, but I feel fortunate to be a urologist. We’ve got different medicines, different treatments, and different surgeries. Patients understand how much things have changed and how fortunate they are today with the progress we’ve made.
I remember when we made a 1-foot incision to take out a kidney-patients stayed hospitalized for a week. Now, we make four tiny keyhole incisions and they go home the next day. Patients come in, and their parents had a whole different surgical experience in the ’80s and ’90s than they are getting in 2018. They appreciate that.
The public appreciates us too. The public is smart and knows the services we offer. The public has more information than they’ve ever had. They go on the Internet and find things. They get on their cell phones, check their electronic records, and they contact me. I can respond any time. They appreciate not having to drive 2 hours.
I’ve been fortunate to see the changes we’ve had in the last 15 years. Patients go home earlier, feeling better. We have better treatments for cancer. It’s exciting and patients appreciate that.”
Sam Bhayani, MD