Friday, August 12, 2011

The 3 A's

I was recently reading a post from Dr. Amy that reminded me of the well known saying that patients judge doctors by the three A's:


In that order.

That is so true. In the outpatient rehab clinic in my residency, there were two physicians who were basically beloved by all their patients. They were intelligent, but they hardly had an encyclopic knowledge base.... but the patients adored them because they were just SO NICE.

One of those attendings wasn't particularly charismatic or outgoing. In fact, he was downright nerdy. But he was still loved by his patients (and me), because he was a total sweetheart.

That inspires me as a physician. Because I'm not charismatic and I don't think I ever can be. You can't learn charisma. And as a new attending, my knowledge base is probably less than encyclopedic. But I can certainly be nice.


  1. When it was time for me to choose an oncologist, the choice came down to two, both female. One was a full professor and a department head who had a reputation for being a sterling oncologist with a brusque manner. She is also tall and thin. The other was at the time a fairly new attending with a sense of humor. She is short-to-average height and chubby. Reason has very little to do with it.

    Kind of scary, actually.

    I went with the jolly little chubby one for no good reason other that she was jolly, little and chubby. I'm a healthcare professional, but when it comes to choosing my doctors, I go with the first A and the third.

  2. We patients tend to figure that almost all doctors have enough knowledge to treat us -- after all, you all graduated. Unfortunately, nobody seems to have graded prospective doctors on affability, and only a small percentage of doctors are actually pleasant to work with. Doctors who are more pleasant listen better and answer questions better, and we are less likely to avoid seeing them, so we end up with better care because of it. It's a totally rational decision.

  3. Affability is really important. I won't go back if I think the doctor is a jerk unless I absolutely have to. And then I will dread it.

  4. Oh my goodness this is so true. I just went to my optometrists, and she made me feel judged, and stupid. So I just nodded and agreed to whatever she said, and mentally planned to find another one.