The Doctor’s Doctor

Doctors have a reputation of making bad patients. Many of us even hesitate getting a personal physician. Years ago it was common for doctors to treat themselves and their families. The Latin vocabulary used on prescriptions includes the phrase “Ad Usum Proprium”, which means “For Personal Use”. This is now considered inappropriate, except in emergency situations or for occasional minor illnesses.

When I turned fifty, after years of neglecting my health, I decided to get my own Family Doctor. I thought about it for a long time. I decided not to see one of my partners, but someone in the city 20 miles from here. It should be a physician with more years of experience than I had, not someone who was young and “aggressive”.  In medicine we use that term for doctors who order lots of tests and prescribe multiple medications. My choice of Family Doctor for myself was Wilford Brown, III, MD, a tall, gray haired man with a solid reputation as a thoughtful, conservative clinician.

Our first meeting went well. I told him which things I was interested in looking into and which ones I didn’t worry about. He obliged, did a brief but appropriate physical exam and treated me with utmost respect. If he disagreed with me, he didn’t say so. I really liked him. We had another visit a year later, and I thought things were going well until he told me he was retiring. My heart sank. I asked him if there was another doctor in his office he would recommend for me. He didn’t hesitate before suggesting Dr. John Royson.

My first and only meeting with Dr. Royson did not go well. I sat in a bare exam room, fortunately not bare myself, for an hour. The exam room door was open and I overheard the medical assistant call Dr. Royson on the phone. Her end of the conversation went:

“Hello, Dr. Royson? Did you forget you had office patients today?”

“Yes, for over an hour.”

“So when will you be here?”

I had taken a half-day off, so I declined the assistant’s offer to reschedule the appointment. After another twenty minutes or so Dr. Royson appeared. He was in his early thirties, sported a flat top and didn’t apologize or even mention anything about me waiting almost an hour and a half.

D. Royson seemed a bit flustered about having an older physician for a patient. He mumbled to himself about perhaps checking my prostate etc. The whole visit lasted ten minutes.

I didn’t have to fire Dr. Royson; he left the practice to become a full time Hospitalist, doing what he was doing when he forgot that he had me and other patients to see at the office.

Dr. Royson’s replacement at Cityside Family Practice was another interesting experience. Dr. Joe Washburn looked like he’d rather be surfing, started me on a new blood pressure pill with a prescription good for a whole year and didn’t say a word about how to follow up. I got the impression he was so uncomfortable treating a colleague that he wished I’d go away and do my own follow-up.

Not long ago our clinic had a new patient register. We have a preliminary registration sheet come to the doctors for approval, because we are at near full capacity. This patient  registration sheet caught my eye:

Name: Wilford Brown, III, MD. 

Reason for choosing our practice: Payback.

6 Responses to “The Doctor’s Doctor”


  1. 1 Cindy Carter July 31, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    Saw you recommended on Dr.B’s blog. Enjoy reading your blog. I will say that Doctors aren’t always the friendliest people either. The guy that did my ACL surgery had a horrible bedside manner but was one of the best surgeons. Moral to the story, some times it is better to have a doctor than a friend. But, it is good if you can get both.

  2. 2 steph August 1, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    I find it inexcusable when a doctor fails to apologise to a patient for keeping them waiting a long time.

    Patients are usually very understanding when a doctor runs late because they’re grateful to be seen at all but the delay should always be acknowledged by the doctor before moving on with the consultation.

    I can well imagine how difficult it must be for a doctor to find a physician of their own. I have to say, I like Wilford Brown’s approach :-)

  3. 3 Dragonfly August 2, 2008 at 12:04 am

    Hehe. Not being comfortable with treating a fellow doctor might happen…but is no excuse for poor treatment. Love the blog btw.

  4. 4 hughev August 14, 2008 at 3:44 am

    re wilford brown; now that is a compliment indeed from him.
    retired GP in england

  5. 5 gerridoc May 23, 2010 at 11:23 am

    This is so true! As an internist who has taken care of physicians, they a very challenging patients!!!!


  1. 1 My Senior Colleague « A Country Doctor Writes: Trackback on September 7, 2008 at 9:32 pm

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