Weekend Question Thread: Doctor Arrogance

God, THIS:

The funny thing about doctors is that you WANT them to be arrogant pricks. If someone is splitting my chest open, I want him to be the cockiest son of a bitch that has ever walked the face of the Earth. I don’t want him to be PLEASANT. I don’t want him to be self-effacing or emo. “We’re gonna open up your left ventricle. And even though I went to medical school in Alabama, I’m pretty sure I know what I’m doing!” I want my doctor to be humorless, aggressive, and I want him to recite the Baldwin speech from Malice to people at least six times a day, with no irony.

I would like all my doctors to be the absolute tits, and I will take mean over tentative any day of the week so long as when they are done with me I am no longer sick or in need of their services. You’re good at your job, you can get away with no bedside manner at all.

The first time I ever saw a gynecologist, he was this jolly son of a bitch. He wore a Hawaiian shirt and had a furry pelt of chest hair and he wanted to chitter-chat. All I wanted was to be done with whatever and out of that goddamn room. I did not want to be put at ease or for him to get to know me, and besides, within ten seconds of being in a room with me almost everybody figures out that the worst way to put me at ease is to try to do it on purpose.

We have a limited amount of time on the planet and it is my life’s goal to spend as little of it as possible in a doctor’s office. State your business, do the breast exam, see you next year.

(Nurses, now? Nurses I like all warm and fuzzy. I am the worst patient, like even my pharmacy this week when I called them said, “Oh, um, you.”)

That gynecologist, I never saw again, and in fact his creepy joviality was so horrifying I didn’t go see another one for years. When I finally did find one, having requested the most humorless bastard on the face of the planet from among my friends, I adored him. He’s not rude, but he’s businesslike, answers my questions, and I am no more skeeved out by him than I am by the guy who changes the oil in my car. They’re much alike: courteous and competent, and not interested in wasting anybody’s time.

Do you want to be petted and cared for when you’re sick, or would you rather they just shoot you up with antibiotics and be on your way?


10 thoughts on “Weekend Question Thread: Doctor Arrogance

  1. I’ve been sick a lot, all my life, and I’m definitely with the “shoot me up with antibiotics and be on my way” school of thought. If only there were shots for ankylosing spondylitis, heart valve problems, and CPD, I’d be good to go.

  2. God I absolutely despise arrogant doctors. Arrogance means EGO and I fucking hate EGO. The very last thing I want to have to worry about at the doctor’s office is stroking some precious snowflake’s ego. Arrogance is dangerous: it means you think you know everything and refuse to admit it when you don’t. Arrogance was George W. Bush mopping his ass with Iraq.
    That I do not want.
    I don’t want to be patronized or have my hand held, and I don’t want to be given the bum’s rush out the door. I don’t want to be treated like an idiot who doesn’t know jack because I haven’t been to medical school. I want someone to answer my questions honestly and yes, you can use the big words, because Al Gore invented the internet so I can fucking look them up on the Google machine when I get home. Which I will do anyway, so better be straight with me.
    What I’ve learned over the years is that most doctors don’t know crap.
    BTW, here’s what happened the last time I went to the doctor:

  3. I think it’s a mistake, as the other commenters have pointed out, to act as though there are only two kinds of doctors:good Kirk and evil Kirk with the nice one being unable to make up his mind and the evil one having at least the virtue of decisiveness. Fallacy of the excluded middle. Gender, race, age, experience–all might have put you more at ease with your gynecologist than affability v. Efficiency. A knotty problem that endures for more than a day, a month, a week may not be susceptible to an efficiency expert anyway. Sometimes illnesses are chronic and the situation can’t easily be handled in one decisive interview. I’d like a doctor who wakes up in the middle of the night thinking about my situation.

  4. I think too many people confuse competence and arrogance. It’s a serious problem. Look at all the red-blue debates where one side relies on facts, evidence, logic and the historical record while the other side just makes stuff up. Look who gets called arrogant. Hint, it’s not the side that has no clue.
    I usually go for a doctor who can explain his or her reasoning, and most of the doctors I’ve been treated by can and do.

  5. Oh, I think arrogance and false self-assurance are the great bane of our age. I saw it in engineers all the time. The ones that were self-promoters, supremely assured about themselves and what they were doing were, invariably, the USDA prime, A-1 fuckups who cost companies much more than they were paid.
    I’d much rather have someone say, “I’m not entirely sure what’s wrong with you right now, but, I’ll do my best to find out” than to be meat under some self-important shit’s cleaver.

  6. It’s not a bilateral choice. I have frequently run into doctors who were not only incompetent but verbally abusive as well. To the point that I am all surprised when I get one that speaks to me like I am an adult and actually listens to the symptoms.
    As for gynecologists, I always go to a woman. No matter how much a man studies, he doesn’t know how it is to have different parts. I wonder how many men go to female urologists?

  7. About ten years ago, I needed to go to an endocrinologist. There were two in the immediate area where I lived. Six week wait to get to see the one, ‘immediate seating’ for the other. And with good reason…
    I had an unusual problem. I’d done enough reading on the web to know that and to know I needed an open minded doctor to help solve it.
    The guy with no waiting was an arrogant prick who wasn’t the slightest bit interested in what I had to say or what I had read on the internet. He knew what the the endocrinology ‘book’ said to do when the lab test read the way mine did, and that was what he was going to do. Had I not run away as quickly as possible, he might have killed me.
    The six week waiting list guy was careful, and thoughtful, and open-minded; he knew that the endocrinology ‘book’ was the right way to go for the 95% of the standard easy cases that walk in the door, but the other 5% might well need some thought and creativity.
    Arrogant and competent might be OK, but arrogant and incompetent could be deadly. Open-minded probably almost never is. Find the open-minded doctor.

  8. I don’t get to the doctor as much as I should (and at my age and with all the aches and pains I really should), but I prefer nurse practitioners to MDs. Just my opinion, but they seem to listen more and not just rely on various tests.

  9. Having spent the last several years with very sick and dying moms & dads (mine & my husbands) what I don’t want is an arrogant asshole when I’m already past exhausted and worried. What I want is a doctor who knows his/her business and knows how to communicate effectively, who doesn’t think he/she is a god, speaks to me as an equal and answers every damn question I ask. There are plenty of doctors out there so I don’t have to put up with condescending arrogance. And I don’t. Robert Earle is right.

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