Creating a Partnership With Your Medical Team

Medicine is a two way relationship. When choosing your care team, credentials and experience are critical, but so is mutual fit. Comfort, communication, and understanding are essential to a successful doctor patient relationship. True partnership not only improves the patient experience, it also fosters informed decision making. When you feel comfortable asking questions and providing information, you are more likely to be satisfied with the choices you make.

Read on for a few quick tips on how to kickstart your clinical partnerships.

Take notes.

It can be difficult to retain large amounts of information under ordinary circumstances. Breast reconstruction is not an ordinary circumstance. Not only are consultations often stressful, they typically involve terms and concepts with which you may not be familiar. You can take some of the stress out of early discussions by taking notes and/or recording conversations. If you can, bring a support person to do one or both of these things. Give yourself some time to decompress after each visit before diving into your notes or recorded materials. Use them to come up with follow up questions and comments that can be used to revise, amend, or confirm your care plan via phone or in a subsequent visit.

Voice your concerns.

A good partnership with your care team involves clear communication from you. If you have questions or concerns at any point, voice them! In many cases, your doctor will have a simple explanation that allays your trepidations, making you feel more confident in your treatment plan. In other instances, your apprehensions may impact the plan.

If you do not feel comfortable speaking up, it may be time to explore other options.

It is very challenging to make confident, informed decisions in an environment where you do not feel comfortable expressing yourself. Your voice should be a key component when it comes to breast reconstruction. Even an excellent surgeon can be the wrong surgeon for you. Remember that the only person to whom you owe loyalty is yourself. You may want to consider seeking out another opinion if:

    • You do not feel heard/cannot make your needs known.
    • You do not feel comfortable bringing a support person to your appointments or have been discouraged from doing so.
    • You do not receive accessible, thorough, or satisfactory answers to your questions.
    • You are not encouraged to talk about your lifestyle, feelings, or surgical goals.
    • You simply do not feel confident in your relationship with your care team.