What teens don't want in a doctor

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In one study that surveyed 6,821 Philadelphia ninth-graders for the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that teens want to go to doctors who wash their hands, use clean instruments, act honestly, and treat them with respect. (AP Photo/Mike Derer)

Recently, the Healthy Kids Blog’s adolescent medicine specialist Rima Himelstein, M.D., wrote about what teenagers need from their doctors. It’s just as important, however, to know what teens want. Their answers, it turns out, are surprisingly mature and thoughtful.

We can learn a lot from listening to our teenagers – including what’s important to them when it comes to the doctors who take care of them. What matters? The answers may surprise you. In one study that surveyed 6,821 Philadelphia ninth-graders for the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found that teens want to go to doctors who wash their hands, use clean instruments, act honestly, and treat them with respect.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? Other important factors included know-how, experience, carefulness, equal treatment of all patients and confidentiality.

What don’t teens want from their doctors? Unfortunately, teenagers hear all too often about the things people think they are doing wrong. I thought it was time for a little role reversal, and so I asked a group of teenagers what they think are the “10 Things Doctors Do Wrong.” Here is what they said:

  • Doctors seem to care more about my insurance information than about my pain!
  • They act like my time doesn’t count. They should apologize when they’re running late!
  • They act like they know me when they only know my chart.
  • Doctors talk to my parent and not to me.
  • They talk to me like I am a medical student, and I don’t understand what they said.
  • They don’t believe me when I say something really hurts.
  • When they’re giving me a shot or a needle, they tell me it’s not going to hurt.
  • Doctors don’t ask before they touch!
  • They don’t give me enough time.
  • They forget to eat a mint!

I think it’s important for us to listen to our teenagers. After all, wasn’t it just yesterday we were working on our tasks of adolescence and needed someone to listen and talk to us? 

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