I live in rural America so not a lot of choice. Either due to this or my personality, perhaps both, I accept responsibility for the quality of care and appointments I have. Easy to say, right? There are a few tips and tricks anyone can use though.
I am an introvert so over the years I have had to learn to fight the inclination to just sit and listen. Before I address that though, I want to say I have learned to listen. Listening is a learned skill and to hone it I tape sessions and take notes from that. Writing helps me retain. At the next session I ask questions about the previous. Asking questions shows the doctor a couple of things, the obvious…I am listening and interested but more importantly I am willing to put effort into this.
How does this make for a better experience with a doctor? I have never met anyone that doesn't like to talk about what they are interested in. Bring on the know-it-all because they probably do. If you can keep them talking, it is hard to tell what you might learn. I suspect most are just itching to tell someone about their latest thoughts. Sometimes I can connect the dots for the doctor because one of the things a know-it-all knows is I know me better than anyone.
How can an introvert join a conversation with the smartest person in the room and not look like an idiot? It takes a level of confidence to do this. I constantly remind myself I am the expert regarding me. I know how I reacted to the medicine and the doctor needs that info. I document my reactions so we have something to talk about other than my feelings. In some respects I am the smartest person in the room. I constantly remind myself of that. It has gotten easier over the years.
Nevertheless, when working with someone new I can let the introvert part of me begin to take over. Over the years I have recognized this about myself so to preclude me incessantly worrying about saying something stupid and failing to ask good questions, I lead with the stupidest thing I can thing of. Then I don't worry anymore about saying something stupid because I already have. If you are laughing at this point it is ok. It makes me laugh too but it works for me.
Another trick I use when I know I want to ask a question but the introvert has kicked in is to just blurt out whoa, whoa Nelly, slow down. Well I just interrupted the doctor's dissertation now I have to say something right? Generally it is the first thing that pops into my head which is what I wanted to ask anyway. If I have completely surprised myself then I ask them to say what they just said except slower because they just went over my head. Invariably it is the truth and stroking a doctor's ego is not beneath me.
I go out of the way to tell them where I have failed. Over the years I have found it builds trust faster. Once they know I am telling them all the bad stuff then they quit grilling me and we spend the majority of the time on stuff we are both interested in.
In short, a doctor with a horrible bedside manner is a challenge worthy of your many talents. When they start telling you about their life outside of medicine is how you determine victory. Yes, I keep score.
When a doctor looks forward to seeing you because you are his/her best patient, you will have a better experience.