June 3, 2006

You Can Judge a Doctor by His Magazines
Illustration of me as an eight year old

First impressions are important. I discovered this copy of Ferrets magazine in my doctor’s waiting room.

A visit with a new doctor always brings some hesitation. It’s like a first date. Will you like him/her? Will he be kind and gentle? Will he be on time? You are primed for qualitative first impressions on this your first date —I mean your first appointment.

As I sat in my new doctor’s waiting room I looked around. Value judgements start at the front door. A doctor’s outer office is a guide to his inner and innate medical practice. Is it contemporary and au courant or has he no design sense at all (proper design habits tell me if he is current with other more salient medical practice). And then there are his magazines. You can tell a lot about a doctor from his periodical treasure trove.

Are they up-to-date or from the 1980s? Do they speak to his political tendencies? The Nation is always a good sign. The New American is not. You are hoping for a long-standing relationship so being a good physician and a like-minded citizen can be important in establishing a rapport.

I rummaged through his magazine stack for evidence of just who this man was. And there underneath Golf Digest lay the current issue of Ferrets magazine!

I scanned the cover. “Ten Ferret-friendly destinations.” “Interior Decorating, Ferret-Style.” Here was everything I needed to know about these animals. But what did this tell me about my physician-to-be?

I pondered how this discovery might affect our initial consultation. We had yet to meet face-to-face. But I was already starting to “know” him. Was this too much information? How would I feel about divulging my personal medical history to someone with this interest?

This was so out of the ordinary I needed to investigate further. I gravitate towards iconoclastic people and this piqued my interest. While I knew nothing about ferrets, perhaps this guy might be on the ball, medically speaking. I began thumbing through the issue. When I reached the middle of the magazine I came upon this centerfold. Ferret owners love their animals. Should I judge a doctor by his covers (or his centerfolds)?

Just then his nurse came out and said “Mr. Gates, the doctor will see you now.”

I’m going to suggest to Blue Cross that their next In-Plan Doctor’s Guide be cross-referenced with each physician’s magazine subscriptions. It’s the only way I can make an informed decision.

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Hmm, to each their own. I’d rather judge him on his knowledge, medical skills, personality and communicaitions skills than his decor.

As for the magazine collection, most of the doctors’ offices around here (like many other offices with waiting rooms) get their magazine supply from their own, their secretaries, friends, colleagues even a few patients/clients contribute to the pile(s). I know where all the IT magazines in my doctor’s office came from *grin*

Posted by: WD Milner on June 3, 2006 5:12 PM

This reminds of the Seinfeld episode where the dentist, Wattely, had adult magazines in his waiting room.

Posted by: Kris on June 4, 2006 12:47 PM

Many (perhaps most?) doctors’ offices receive tons of magazine subscriptions for free, mostly unsolicited.

Note that I’m not trying to imply that your physician isn’t into the whole ‘committing unnatural acts with ferrets’ scene. I’m just sayin’.

Posted by: Greg on June 5, 2006 12:32 PM

Comments are now closed for this post. But there are a few other entries which might provoke an opinion or two.

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