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  • Writer's pictureCommunity Wellbeing San Diego

How Would You Define a Healthy Patient-Physician Relationship?

Visiting a physician in a hospital or clinic can be intimidating. The environment itself is unfamiliar, with bright lights and strange-looking machines. The physician can be a little scary as well. Due to the important role physicians and healthcare professionals play in our community, what should a patient-physician relationship look like?

Based on patient surveys, certain qualities are essential in creating a healthy patient-physician relationship*:

1) Communication

Communication is a cardinal trait for both the physician and the patient. Physicians must communicate complex ideas in ways that are understandable for patients. This allows patients to fully comprehend their treatment plan and understand the importance of compliance. In turn, patients should feel comfortable communicating their concerns to their physician, and feel confident that their physician is listening. Together, we should foster an environment where we feel free asking one another questions.

2) Empathy

Sometimes when we visit our physician, we feel scared, vulnerable, or confused. We experience unfamiliar symptoms and hope to find explanations for our bodily reactions. Therefore, it is essential for physicians to be empathetic — to stand in their patient’s shoes and understand their perspective. This can help build trust and assist the physician in constructing a treatment plan that best aligns with their patient's concerns.

3) Trust

Physicians play an important role in our lives: they serve as guides and educators when it comes to our health. Therefore, it is essential for physicians to embody integrity and for patients to trust that their physician will always be their best advocate.

Many other qualities can easily be added onto this list. Perhaps you find your physician’s education or affability the most important quality of a patient-physician relationship. Regardless, we hope you realize that as patients, we play an important role in our health. Our relationship with our physician should be a two-way street, where we also feel comfortable asking questions and expressing our concerns.

What does a healthy patient-physician relationship look like to you?

By: Erika Mae Bernardino


*Renter, Elizabeth. “4 Essential Elements of a Healthy Doctor-patient Relationship.” Health Care, 14 October 2015. Web. Date accessed: 25 October 2019.


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