A Doctor’s Point of View on the Doctor Patient Relationship

I recently did an interview on the doctor patient relationship. Here I reproduce just a small part of it.

You can read the whole interview on Multiple Sclerosis Central.com by clicking on the following link.


I have asked Doctor Nitin Sethi to contribute to this discussion through an interview about this very topic of the doctor-patient relationship.  Doctor Sethi will discuss this relationship from a doctor’s point of view and in part two of this series we will examine the same relationship from a patient’s perspective.  The patient will be me.   I do encourage you to offer your viewpoints through the form of comments to these articles.


I introduce to you:  Nitin K Sethi, MD who is the Assistant Professor of Neurology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital of Weill Cornell Medical Center located in New York City.


What do you feel are some of the personal qualities which are important for a doctor to develop rapport and trust with patients?


A lot has been written about doctor patient relationship and what qualities define it. Nowadays in medical school itself there is a thrust not just to produce smart doctors but also to produce more humane doctors. A study had shown that student doctors (medical students) have the highest levels of empathy. As they go through their long training (residency and at times fellowship), this empathy progressively decreases. One may argue that “experienced” doctors become less humane. I do not buy that argument. I feel the empathy gets replaced by knowledge. You know what you are dealing with and you understand disease pathology better. This might make a doctor sound aloof and like a “machine”.  He is very good at what he does but he is cold and aloof.


My patients frequently tell me that they left their previous doctor because he would not hear them out or he was not caring enough. They rarely say I left him because he was incompetent. I want to make this point to answer your question. Some of the smartest doctors I know (people I would go to if I had a neurological problem) do not have the greatest bedside manners. They are not most suave. But as a patient I would rather go to a competent doctor than to one who says all the right things in the right way but is not the smartest light.

5 thoughts on “A Doctor’s Point of View on the Doctor Patient Relationship

  1. Hi,

    Great post. Though I don’t think competence and bedside manners have to be exclusive.
    People are proabaly looking for both. But they notice bedside manner more than competence because their knowledge of medicine maybe be limited. Thanks for sharing this interview.

    I’m Hua, the director of Wellsphere’s HealthBlogger Network, a network of over 2,000 of the best health writers on the web (including doctors, nurses, healthy living professionals, and expert patients). I think your blog would be a great addition to the Network, and I’d like to invite you to learn more about it and apply to join at http://www.wellsphere.com/health-blogger. .


  2. Dear Hua,
    thank you for writing in. I am glad you found the interview interesting. Thank you also for the link to wellsphere.com. I shall email you with any further queries I may have.

    Personal Regards,
    Nitin Sethi, MD

  3. Doctor,
    I agree with you that competency is far more important than anything else but you also agreed that people still leave the doctor and go to another one if they are left unsatisfied in any term.Why doctors cant have both as patients should be satisfied fully not just in terms of treatment but in terms of his or her query, mannerism etc. I guess its because most of the doctors are running short of time and they have no patients to listen and want to see more pateints in a short span But i believe personal care is equally important.Beside competency if we have patience and manners it serves the purpose of serving the society in the best possible way as its just not a profession but more than that and ill people needs the best possible behaviour from a doctor than anyone else and they deserve to be treated with compassion.
    I read your few articles and they are nice.

    1. Dear Kamal,
      I agree with what you say. There are many things which we are taught in medical and dental schools and then there are some which we are born with. Medicine is truly an art, practiced by many but mastered by a precious few. Thank you for your words of encouragement.

      Personal Regards,
      Nitin Sethi, MD

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s