When Roles are Reversed: Why Doctors Seem to Be the Worse Patients

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Upon entering college, most college students don’t know what they want to study. They figure they’ll just knock out all of their prerequisite classes and then they’ll make their decision. But then there are those students who know exactly what they want to study, especially students who know they want to become doctors… they may not know which specialty they want to focus on but they know without a doubt that they want to practice medicine.

Once a medical student graduates, it will then become time for them to find a job in their specialty. Luckily, there is a job board with physician positions all over the world that medical students can utilize, of course, once they’ve passed all their board exams and are legally qualified to practice medicine. Upon becoming a new physician entering the world of medicine, they become overachievers dedicating the majority of their time and effort to their patients. In doing this, can you guess what they’re neglecting?

If you guessed that they neglect their own health, then you guessed right.  According to theatlantic.com, the most informed patients (physicians) don’t always make the best choices on how to be a healthy adult. It just seems odd because physicians are the ones who have gone through extensive education and training in the medical field yet they don’t follow their own health guidelines as diligently as they direct their patients to do.

Physicians get pretty frustrated when their patients don’t follow their medical advice, so the real question is, why is it that when physicians need medical attention, they seem to turn into the worst patients? It’s so ironic how they turn into the very patient that frustrates them the most. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why doctors turn into the worst patients when it’s their turn to receive medical treatment.

Why Doctors are the Worst Patients: Psychological Barriers

Doctors are bad patients for numerous reason but the main reasons stem from psychological barriers. For one, depending on the type of doctor it is, they see a lot of things from serious injuries to death and having to be the deliverer of bad news to patients… all of that can take a huge toll on a doctor’s mental capacity. Sure, you are told to expect those types of things in medical school but to actually experience it is a totally different story.

In experiencing those types of things, it’s hard for a doctor to seek mental help for fear of professional concerns. They don’t want to be stigmatized as the doctor with mental health issues, which could, in turn, prevent career progression.

Secondly, some doctors have psychological barriers due to certain personality traits. Some of the personality traits doctors have make them awesome doctors but are off-putting as a patient, making them a “bad” patient. Some of those personality traits that are great as a doctor but bad as a patient include:

  • Narcissist: knowing you’re the best
  • Perfectionist: mistakes are unacceptable
  • Compulsive: irresistible or uncontrollable desire or urge
  • Criticizer of Vulnerability: needing help is a sign of weakness that I cannot possess

Lastly, some doctors let the fact that they’re a doctor get in the way of taking another doctor’s medical advice. Sure, they may be very knowledgeable in their specialty and have knowledge in other areas but doctors need another eye to provide their care. This is when narcissism is extremely evident, making them not take the medical advice of another doctor because they don’t agree with the doctor’s diagnosis or form of treatment. This mindset can keep a doctor from being their healthiest if they don’t loosen the reigns.

Why Doctors are the Worst Patients: Timing Barriers

Being a doctor, they typically work during business hours as most doctors offices operate so it can become a bit of a task to leave in the middle of a shift to squeeze in time to get their own health checked out… to put it plain and simple, doctors don’t take or make the time to go see a doctor. For the most part, if they get sick, they’ll treat themselves, depending on the nature of their illness… they’ll typically do this until their condition gets to its worst point before they seek treatment from another doctor.

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