The doctor’s office experience usually follows a pattern

February 20, 2022

Most people’s hope is that an encounter with a medical professional is rare, but more than likely inevitable. It does not matter the nature or cause of the encounter; the particulars (prior to the actual physician examination) are usually the same. Given some of the restrictions currently in place as we approach the outer door of the given medical facility, we stop to read the safety instructions. Hopefully, these instructions are simple and clearly stated in order to hasten our entry into the facility. There is no need to discuss the actual instructions or warnings on the writings on the door since we must abide by said prose to enter the building.

Once inside, you are usually met by two or three lovely young ladies in scrubs of a myriad of colors, one of whom eventually acknowledges your presence. No criticism is intended here; it appears that this is just the way it is. Each employee behind the desk has a specific task of which you as the patient are unaware, as each stares intently at the computer screen in front of her. The designated receptionist asks your name, date of birth, and then seeks your official identification and the all-important insurance data. The patient is hopefully in possession of all of the above, including the often-sought current list of meds, presents same to the young lady, and is then cleared to have a seat in the reception area.

Reception/waiting areas vary, I suppose, depending upon the physician’s personal choices or the medical corporation’s preference. In many cases we are entertained by public information videos which exhort us to “do the right thing” regarding our bodies. Strangely enough, the video may or may not deal with the specialty of the given practice. How about a mere television program which is on the air at the time of our visit, the network selected by a staff person or persons unknown! If the patient is lucky, s/he will not have to view the television screen for too long, and will happily hear the sound of a familiar name, thus ending the sojourn in the waiting room.

The patient has now reached the actual medical area of the office where the scale awaits. I suspect that many of us might be more apprehensive of this stop in the process than even the actual physical examination by the physician. The number about to appear on the weight machine which confronts us will not match the number on our home device which measures the mass of our body in pounds. There is also the more-than-likely reality that the number on the machine now weighing us shall not only be higher than our home unit of the same nature, but, oh horrors, shall be higher than the reading of our prior visit!

We are now ready for the nurse or equivalent professional to take our temperature and blood pressure reading, and ask all the questions which we may have answered during that prior visit of some months ago. There is no need to measure the number of minutes which have elapsed since our initial arrival at the facility, for such would indeed be unfair. There are too many variables involved, plus the staff does strive to move things along. However, the tick-tock really begins at this point as we await the arrival of the physician in the examining room. One’s mind is racing as it anticipates either a mild scolding on the weight situation, or a more serious diagnosis of the given condition based on recent lab work.

Ah, the visit has concluded, almost! The patient now has the pleasure to exit the facility, but not before the next appointment, referrals to other medical personnel, prescriptions, and the copay (if not taken earlier) are exacted. It is at this juncture that a big “thank you” to all the staff is in order, regardless of the amount of time one may have spent at the office. The outcome, despite what the medical particulars may be, is positive and appreciative, in that we now know what we may not have known prior to the visit, and can proceed accordingly. We feel a sigh of relief as we learn that our medical situation, although of concern, could be worse. We proceed to the exit and to our automobile with the satisfaction that the doctor whom we trust so much has assured us that we will live to see another day, or perhaps 365, at least.

  • Peter E. Carter is a former public school administrator who has served communities in three states as a principal, and district and county superintendent, for 35-plus years. He is a board member for Delaware Botanic Gardens and Cape Henlopen Educational Foundation, and the author of a dual autobiography, “A Black First…the Blackness Continues.”

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