Doctor-Patient No-Nos.

At CCNM, we are trained quite extensively in proper doctor etiquette. There are many unofficial rules to abide by in order to have successful doctor-patient relationships. Off the top of my head and in no particular order, here are some things to avoid while in practice:

Keep it to yourself - don't talk about yourself during an appointment with a patient. Some may think that identifying with the patient will help them, but in fact in blurs the doctor-patient boundaries. Avoid saying things like "I also had a ___ last week, it was ___!" Never turn the appointment onto yourself (e.g. "lets get you eating more protein... you know, I don't know if I even eat enough protein most days"). If the patient tries to learn personal information about you, always question why they are asking and gently remind them that the appointment is about their health.

Be a blank slate - don't judge the patient no matter what they say. Aim to stay neutral. You don't want to give the patient any mixed signals. If your patient decides to divorce his wife, don't congratulate or reprimand, just be. Be there for him as he goes through the process.

Listen to their needs - really listen to what the patient wants out of each appointment. Do they want to treat their condition aggressively or are they more comfortable taking things slow? Do they want to leave with a new supplement in hand or have you recommend a treatment to complete at home, or did they simply come to chat with you or to have you look over their bloodwork? Are you pushing them too much or not enough? You can help this process by asking the patient at the beginning of every appointment what they want from it.

Have no motive - although you may have a treatment plan in mind, let appointments be guided by the patient. Do they really need acupuncture today or is it best to just sit and listen, letting them express their current frustrations? Try not to enter an appointment with a particular motive.

Edited to add: Oh, and in case you are wondering why I wrote this post... well, I recently had a bad experience with a future ND (an intern at CCNM's teaching clinic). Don't get me wrong, most interns are AMAZING, but this particular one just did everything wrong. She talked about her own health concerns, talked about herself quite a bit, was not listening to me when I explained why I came to the clinic (therefore the whole session went bonkers!), and she was definitely judging me (outwardly) without even knowing me or my case! Boo-urns. Anywho, I was glad to experience a bad intern for once as it reminded me what NOT to do when I am in clinic.


  1. That really sucks!

    Was she in a later year?
    Hopefully she learns and doesn't go in to practice like that.
    Last thing Naturopathy needs is someone unqualified giving this new "weird" thing bad press. But it is somewhat funny that she did everything wrong. I mean, EVERYTHING wrong; that's hilarious.

  2. Yeah, a fourth year. This is rare, because most fourth years I've worked with or been treated by are AMAZING. I was floored at how inappropriate this one acted. Definitely going to mention it next time I see my supervisor.

    Like I said, at least it reminded me what to NOT do in practice!


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