Doctor-patient Relationships

By Daniel L. Mannen, OD, FAAO November 04, 2011

One of the real blessings of private practice is having the opportunity to develop a long-term relationship with our patients. Our patients become our friends and almost seem like family. We know what they like and don’t like. We know their jobs, their hobbies, and their interests. We look forward to seeing them so we can catch up on what is happening in their lives and, oh yeah, provide the best in eyecare as well. And often, we learn as much from them as they do from us.

One story stands out as I reminisce about my patients. Enter Mr. and Mrs. Jones, both in their 90’s, accompanied by their daughter, their granddaughter, their great-granddaughter, and her new puppy, Lulu, who was out in the car.  All are patients of mine except for Lulu. Mr. and Mrs. Jones became patients when I first came to town 26 years ago and I have always appreciated their trust and support.

I was certain that the Jones family visit would be memorable. Mrs. Jones presented with no new health issues, but did present with a newly knitted steering wheel cover in tasteful pink and green tones. Mr. Jones proudly supervised as Mrs. Jones presented her gift. The daughter brought in four pair of glasses in various stages of repair for adjustment. The granddaughter, a junior high basketball coach, was feverishly diagramming plays for a big game later in the day. The great-granddaughter was selling Girl Scout cookies, and we were certain the new puppy would need a treat.

Mrs. Jones had her exam first. She was in remarkably good health and, after the good news was delivered, I decided to ask her the big question: “So, Mrs. Jones, just how long have you been married?” Her reply was very precise: “75 years, one month, and three days.” It was now time for Mr. Jones. He also had an uneventful exam and demonstrated excellent health. “So, Mr. Jones, just how long have you been married?” He paused, reached out and took my hand, and replied, “All of my life!” It is all about perspective isn’t it? Surely, there is a lesson to be learned from the Joneses.

Mr. and Mrs. Jones preappointed for their next exams. The daughter was happy with her newly adjusted glasses. The granddaughter (coach) was ready for her game. The great-granddaughter sold all of her cookies. (I love those thin mints.) And yes, we all went out to meet the new puppy and deliver her treat. Lulu licked her chops and seemed pleased with our customer service.

As I see it, it is all about the people. Long-term doctor-patient relationships exemplify private practice and allow us to connect with the whole patient while providing the best in eyecare.

Announcing a New Contest: Best Doctor Story

I would like to invite you to share your best story from your practice for us all to enjoy. Please send your story by e-mail to by midnight on Wednesday, November 30, 2011. We will announce the best story on December 9 and post it here with a link in a future e-mail. This is going to be great!

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