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Once upon a time, when I made a doctor appointment, I actually saw the doctor. Recently, I discovered this is a case of do-not-assume.
When I arrived at my scheduled time, I was told I would see a Physician’s Assistant. I had heard of P.A.s before. However, I was surprised that the office gatekeeper delivered this information as a statement of fact with no discussion, reason or advance notice. The P.A. was very nice and seemed qualified; this is nothing personal. I am just wondering when doctors became so important that they no longer found the time to see patients.

This incident was reminiscent of the time I discovered that a routine dentist appointment really meant an appointment with the hygienist. For those too young to remember, there was a time when dentists cleaned teeth. I wonder who conjured up the notion that there was a void in the dentistry field requiring the creation of a teeth-cleaning specialist. In any case, I now realize the reason I have difficulty scheduling a convenient appointment for a routine dental visit is not because the dentist is booked, but because the hygienist has limited hours. Interesting.

While on the subject of how the medical profession has changed, have you ever been to a new doctor, typically an unnerving experience in and of itself, and found it difficult to make that essential doctor-patient connection? Perhaps it was because, after a brief introduction and handshake but before the exam, they sat with their face in a laptop, asking you personal questions to enter your metrics into their database. This is after the multitude of questions answered on the phone and requisite form in the waiting room. Do they teach bedside manners in medical school?

To make my case, I am trying to think of a model doctor to hold up as a reference point. Unfortunately, I will need to date myself to accomplish this because even television doctors are not as humanized as they used to be. Marcus Welby M.D., where are you?


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