Art of SKIN’s Dr. Paul Lubitz: Treating the patient with kindness, fairness and patience
April 18, 2014
Dr. Paul Lubitz on Kindness, Fairness and Patience
“When patients decide to visit a doctor for the first time, their decision is often based on an understanding of two qualities,” explains Dr. Paul Lubitz of Bow Valley Dermatology in Canmore, Alberta. “The first quality that comes up is whether the doctor is competent or not. The second is whether the doctor has a good bedside manner.”
With all the change and the potential for oversight present in the modern medical system, competency typically takes a backseat to the second quality Dr. Paul Lubitz mentioned above: bedside manner. A doctor is assumed to be competent by the mere fact that he is in practice. And while this may not always be the case, the assumption does reveal the true influence and determining factor on doctor choice. To put it simply, bedside manner is crucial.
“Ask 1,000 people what they think makes a good doctor and kindness, fairness and patience will come up every time,” elaborates Dr. Paul Lubitz. “In listing these qualities, patients are describing the essential components of a good bedside manner.”
Kindness, often manifested as empathy, is a major component of a good bedside manner. Patients visiting a doctor are already in a very vulnerable position. They don’t need, nor do they want, to face a brusque and callous doctor who will minimize the importance of their suffering. They need a consoling shoulder and a sympathetic ear. They need to feel safe so they can disclose sensitive and private information. Kindness then – including making an attempt to understand how an affliction or condition is affecting a particular patient’s daily life – is the first step toward making the patient feel better, or at least understood.
Fairness goes hand-in-hand with respect. Fairness and respect enable a doctor to treat all patients equally, independent of their conduct, ethnicity, and lifestyle choices. Dr. Paul Lubitz sums it up nicely, “A doctor’s job is to treat, not to judge.”
Patience in the medical field takes many forms. A doctor must be patient with the layperson describing their symptoms in often vague and confusing terms. A doctor must be patient with him self and the patient and allow the time necessary to get a real understanding of that particular situation.
Dr. Paul Lubitz stresses the importance of this last component when he describes the process at Bow Valley Dermatology, “We take a low patient volume approach as compared to the high patient volume dermatology norm. The focus of my clinic remains on increasing patient satisfaction and improving my dermatologic care through a higher emphasis on patient education and increased time spent by the physician with each patient.”
The dermatology norm Dr. Paul Lubitz mentioned is often characterized by quick patient turn-around time – rushing through appointments and making quick decisions – in an attempt to reach target goals and avoid long waiting periods. This however, in Dr. Lubitz’s opinion, is not always best for the patients. “For me, and from my own experience working in both high and low volume practices, the quality of my doctor/patient relationship is much more important than the quantity of those relationships.”
“Taking the time to educate my patients is a very an important part of my practice,” continues Dr. Paul Lubitz. “Providing information to patients regarding their condition and treatment options empowers them and helps them to take a more active and responsible role in their health.”
In the past, a doctor’s most important tools might have been a stethoscope and an ophthalmoscope. But, as Dr. Paul Lubitz illustrated at the beginning of this article, bedside manner is certainly now a close third. Kindness, fairness and patience – the essential components of a good bedside manner – are in a way, a sort of remedy in themselves; they don’t require a prescription, they aren’t invasive, and they can have a profound impact on a patient’s recovery. Best of all, there are no side effects.