Marcus Welby, MD (starring Robert Young) was a television show I occasionally watched as a kid that aired from 1969 to 1976. The show’s 169 episodes featured a very pleasant family physician who was known for his kind and gentle approach to his patients. He made house calls, always had plenty of time, and was known for his “good bedside manner”. The surgeons of the 4077th and their approach to excellent and compassionate care made M*A*S*H another formative influence on me. And, I think it obviously influenced most people that watched one of the most highly viewed TV final episodes in history.
These TV shows demonstrated how physicians connected with their patients, and somehow after watching these doctor-patient relationship-developing stories, they left us feeling good. The description “a good bedside manner” used to be meaningful, and I heard it repeated often by my parents or other adults describing a skilled physician they liked and respected, and with whom they felt a real personal connection. Practicing any kind of medicine, including cosmetic surgery in Spokane, is a complex profession. The multifaceted delivery of care to patients forces us to not only learn a tremendous amount of scientific medical science, which is constantly changing, but we also learn to skillfully apply that knowledge to our patients through medical or surgical interventions.
However, the delivery of healthcare has changed. Government oversight, electronic medical records, and compliance with the Affordable Care Act have decimated physician-owned and operated practices. Unfortunately, these changes have affected the doctor-patient relationship, too. Interactions by default have become impersonal and rushed. My goal is not to get onto a political soap box on healthcare reform. My message is much simpler.
Every once in a while, I think it’s important to remember that our patients have a choice. And, I think most people in this fast food society that we live in still crave personal touch and the trust developed with their doctor and staff. Whether we’re performing liposuction or laser hair removal for our patients in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, my team and I keep this in mind. We all want to be treated with respect and warmth by caring people. HOW we deliver medical care to patients is what really differentiates us as physicians. I’m a cosmetic surgeon, but every now and then, a patient will ask if I will be their primary care doctor as well. I, of course, politely decline and thank them for the nice compliment. But, I really do consider that a high compliment. And, that’s when I know that I’ve accomplished making that personal connection. And, that I may have actually learned something after all of these years from Hawkeye and Dr. Welby.