- Time is in short supply
- Discussions should be concise
- Emotions are generally discouraged
- Patients are supposed to be compliant
- Questions are tolerated but not overtly encouraged
- Though some physicians try to incorporate a collaborative model, most still expect to be the authority
- Responsibility for health lies within the patient
- Aggression tends to be expressed more directly
- Uncertainty is generally not tolerated
My own experience is more nuanced, which may reflect the longer-term nature of cancer treatment and the relationships that our built-up. In particular, while the emotional side is generally handled by the team social worker, questions are welcome, health is a shared responsibility, have seen little aggression, and given the nature of cancer, uncertainty is part of the package. As my clinic is a group practice, there is more collaboration among them but human nature being what it is, hierarchy exists. And we are lucky to have a good family doctor who, although busy, gives us the necessary time to discuss and question.
Some good advice:
So speak your mind when talking with physicians. Just do so concisely. Treat appointments with doctors like you would a business meeting. Have a brief agenda. Present your questions at the beginning of the meeting. Be clear, concise, and limit TMI (too much information) regarding emotions. Physicians have a job to do, and in this modern age, they are often focused on the body. Psychologists and other therapists are often better suited to have long-term emotional discussions.