There was a time when it made sense to blindly listen to our doctors, no ifs, ands or buts. We even talked about this time in a previous blog post (//baronandbudd.com/protecting-whats-right/2013/05/what-makes-the-medicine-go-down-hint-its-not-a-spoonful-of-sugar/) and concluded by saying how important it is, today, for patients to take responsibility for their own health, medication use and treatment plans.

This is such an important issue that we wanted to bring it back up and finish where we left off. You see, as easy as it is to recommend that everyone take charge of his or her own health, the reality is a bit more complicated. For one, you (most likely!) did not spend years in school studying to become a doctor; you are not professionally expected to stay up to date with the latest medicinal news and treatment studies –and following the latest FDA news is admittedly much less interesting than keeping up with the Kardashians (yes, we went there).

Also there’s everything we’ve been taught. Isn’t it rude to treat your doctor as a partner in your own health, showing him or her that you will in fact sometimes refer to online or other resources? And, if it’s rude, aren’t you a little scared that your doctor will treat you less diligently? After all, doctors are only human, and hurt feelings could mean standoffish care, right?

Well, no. In life, there is a place for hurt feelings, and it’s nowhere near your health. Doctors are trained to do what is best for their patients based on the latest medical information, with no hard feelings. That means that a good doctor will appreciate your concern and your initiative to do research on your own – whether that means more questions or a second or third opinion.

The best doctors, also, will make sure that you are fully aware of options as well as complications or other issues involved with your chosen form of treatment. Sure, it’s easy to say to the doctor: "I trust you," and blank out when they start in with all the doctor mumbo jumbo. But it’s exactly then when you should really listen. If your doctor is trying to inform you of the details, listen, take notes and engage with the doctor to find your best option. And if you doctor is not walking you through your medical options: Alert! It’s time to seek a second opinion.

You may visit your doctor a few times a month, or a few times a year, but you are the one who will have to deal with your symptoms and long-term health, 24/7. Pay yourself some respect and start speaking up and taking charge of your health.

Just as you want a doctor who speaks up for your health, your doctor wants the same thing from you!