Talking to Your Doctor by Dr. Zackary Berger, is unique in that it is written by a physician but geared towards patients. Dr. Berger uses his experience as both a doctor and a patient to highlight the problems found within the doctor-patient relationship and suggest ways to improve it.
What I appreciated most about Dr. Berger’s book is that he provided practical, easy to use strategies for patients. He recognizes that America’s healthcare system is embedded with problems and, therefore, it is difficult for an individual patient to make change. He acknowledges that while there is a growing trend towards promoting humanism in medical education, true reform may not take place quickly enough for the average person reading his book.
His suggestions as to how to navigate interactions with medical professionals are widely accessible. In my opinion, the best piece of advice he offers to patients is to ask their doctors, “What do you think you would do in this situation?” Dr. Berger states that this question can serve to unite the scientific data physicians are taught to rely on with their humanistic core, and that a doctor’s answer will be more likely to resonate with the patient. He also recommends negotiating an agenda at the start of every appointment so that neither doctor nor patient dominates the entire conversation.
Throughout the book, he emphasizes that America is a nation where we “spend more to get less,” so it was appropriate that he decided to dedicate the last portion of the book to simple ways in which patients and doctors can use individual encounters to affect more wide-spread healthcare reform. Dr. Berger’s book provided the tools to help improve the practice of medicine on both the individual and systemic levels, and I would recommend his book to doctors and patients alike.
This post was written by Stacy Gallin, DMH. Her work in the Medical Humanities focuses on the philosophy of psychiatry, bioethics and the Holocaust, and various ways to remedy the healthcare system in America You can find more of her work at IntellectualBabble, where she blogs about her journey to change the world (in between changing diapers).