Hanan has had continuous headaches for some weeks and she decided to see a doctor.
Hanan: When I arrived I didn’t see a receptionist, so I sat in the waiting room quietly, like the other patients. When it was my turn, the doctor himself called me in. He offered me his hand. I told him about my headaches and the doctor felt my pulse and took my temperature. Then he asked me what I thought the cause of the problem could be! How should I know? He is the doctor? He gave my some aspirins and told me to take some rest and come back if the pain would continue. I think I will look for another doctor.
She came in and I asked her to come in and sit down. Her complaints did not raise any concern, as her pulse, blood pressure and temperature were good. I asked her what she thought could have caused the headache. She seemed puzzled and did not reply, even if she had explained her pain quite well. I expect to see her back if the pain continues.
Hanan felt ill and was looking for comfort and a solution to her pain. There was no nurse and not even a reception desk. The practice was very efficient. But Hanan did not feel comfortable and supported. And how can a doctor work without a nurse? In Hanan’s mind a doctor should only do what a doctor is trained to do, not the tasks that a nurse or secretary can also do. In her mind, the doctor loses authority. Hanan would expect the doctor to tell her what is wrong with her health and use his expertise to find a solution, not ask her what she thinks. She is not a doctor!
What are possible solutions?
The doctor could explain better that based on her temperature and pulse, there is no critical issue and that fatigue and stress are common causes of headaches. He could be more precise in his prescription (for instance: sleep 2 hours in the afternoon every day and come back in 2 weeks) and also more precise in his questioning. If the pain is severe, Hanan could try to insist on a medicine; in Luxembourg it is normal for a patient to speak up and make a request. As a consequence, the doctor could give her pills, and tell her to only take them when the pain is too severe. In two weeks she should tell him when she felt the pain and when she took the pills.
In Hanan’s experience, a doctor is an expert, definitely a person of authority and therefore to be respected (PDI +). In Luxembourg, being a doctor is just another profession, to help others with health problems (PDI -). They tend to do their own administration during the consultation. A receptionist is usually only employed by a group of doctors. They also include the patient in the analysis of the problem and try to find a treatment together. So they don’t act as experts but rather assist in identifying the problem and finding the right approach. They only send patients to expensive check ups (like MRI) if they either identify a more serious problem or do not find the root cause.