Over the years many will describe a physician as having a 'good' or perhaps 'bad' bedside manner.
Presumably what they mean is the doctor's personality: how friendly, kind, perhaps compassionate they appear to the patient.
Occasionally one will hear that the doctor had a 'terrible' bedside manner, but "he was a great doctor, anyway so I continued to go to him."
Ladies and gentlemen–as a physician in private practice for over thirty years now–I would like to express an opinion. There is no such thing as a 'great' doctor with a 'bad' bedside manner.
Of course, one can speak of a surgeon who is know for his or her technical expertise. Perhaps they even have a history of good outcomes.
But I truly believe that a physician's bedside manner is inextricably linked to his or her ability to 'heal' their patients.
Patients appear in my office with a variety of symptoms and complaints. What they ALL have in common is….fear. One of my most important tasks in establishing a healing relationship with them, is to reduce their fear and win their confidence in my approach to their problems. We all understand the power of the mind to aid in the healing process. A patient who feels that their physician deeply cares about their health will most likely activate their body's healing properties.
Now, physicians will occasionally look askance at other physicians who, they claim, have built a large practice based on their personality and bedside manner at the expense of their medical expertise. Of course that can be the case. But for the most part I still contend that how I treat my patients: the concern, focus, kindness and interest in them as individuals will result in a better outcome.
One obvious aspect of such a relationship is that the patient will be more willing to share their complaints with the doctor. Some patients may actually be intimidated by an overbearing or unfriendly physician. This will undoubtedly lead to a breakdown in communication and probably reduce the chance for true healing to occur.
A physician who exhibits a poor bedside manner may have a higher percentage of patients who do not follow their specific recommendations which clearly impairs the healing process.
So always seek out a physician who is not only medically competent but who truly cares about their patient's well-being and is able to communicate it clearly and directly. It will hasten the healing process to be sure.