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Sick of Doctors? Then Do Something About It

July 1, 2010

Sick of Doctors? Then Do Something About It! A Prescription for Patient Empowerment by Lorene M. Burkhart
published by Burkhart Network, LLC an Imprint Of Curtis Publishing June 1, 2010

I’ve lost several close family members to illness, and I have children with various types of “special needs,” so I am no stranger to doctors. When dealing regularly with medical professionals, one quickly learns that we need to be our own advocates. No one else can take responsibility for our medical care or our children’s well-being. Lorene Burkhart has written a clear, concise book to enable us to better understand the medical profession and give us some tools to help us navigate our relationships with doctors.

During the author’s lifetime, the medical profession has changed radically. At one time you were cared for by a family doctor who helped you through all sorts of illnesses, delivered your babies, and eventually helped shepherd you out of this life. He knew you and your family intimately, and he didn’t mind making house calls. In the 1920s and 1930s the American Medical Association worked hard to professionalize the medical field, expanding the rules governing training and licensure.  As a result, doctors enjoyed higher status, and their fees increased exponentially. The country entered the Great Depression, and many people simply couldn’t afford doctors and hospitals. So by the 1940s, a movement was afoot to introduce health insurance. When this took root, and medical technology blossomed, fees skyrocketed again. By the 196os, doctors were becoming increasingly specialized. And that was just the beginning of the tremendous changes to come.

Today, we are unlikely to know our doctors well, since our medical care is split among various specialists. And the socioeconomic gap between physicians and their patients is gaping. This is light years away from the personal, lifelong relationships family doctors once had with their patients. So we’re unable to communicate well with our docs — I’ve been treated by physicians who didn’t remember my name — and we’re a bit intimidated by them.

Burkhart offers some strategies for improving the situation. This includes tips on specific questions you should ask a doctor before choosing his practice, advice on taking ownership of our own medical histories, and help in examining our own stereotypes about doctors. Are they really the greedy, arrogant characters we imagine them to be? Do most of them have God complexes? Or are these caricatures simply undermining our ability to build effective working relationships with our physicians?

This book delves into difficulties in the medical profession, sharing personal stories and case histories. It also helps readers understand things from a doctor or nurses’s point of view. She explores some of the reasons physicians have difficulty working effectively with patients. She also discusses why so many misdiagnoses happen and gives examples of how doctors’ prejudices affect the quality of health care. For example, studies have shown that blacks wait longer for kidney transplants, even though they suffer disproportionately from kidney failure.

The author looks at a variety of ways we can take control of our own health care, from switching doctors to exploring complementary medicine. And she gives us a glimpse of the kind of work many outstanding physicians do and what genuine health care reform might look like.

If you are seeking ways to feel more confident in choosing and communicating with doctors, or if you want to better understand the predicament of our current health care system, I think this short, informative and well-researched book is a good place to start. I found it thought provoking, and it offered practical suggestions I can use when seeking medical help or advocating for my kids.

Note from the Publicist: Join us on the Sick of Doctors? Then Do Something About It! virtual tour. To learn more about the tour, visit You can also learn more about Lorene Burkhart and the book at

10 Comments leave one →
  1. July 1, 2010 2:34 am

    I absolutely must get this for my grandparents. They, of course, are rather regular doctor-goers, and they have that old-timey awe of doctors which means they take the doctor’s word for it, ask very few questions, and in general trust their doctors like gods. Thanks for the suggestion!

  2. July 1, 2010 5:35 am

    I am not sure if I want this one.

  3. July 2, 2010 2:43 pm

    I don’t think this book is for me! My dad is a doctor (he just celebrated 30 years of working in the same clinic yesterday!), and I always get annoyed when people act as though doctors rarely work but get a lot of money. I know this book is out to negate that perception, but it still is a little depressing a book needs to be out there about it!

    • July 2, 2010 2:47 pm

      Congratulations to your Dad! I’ve always had the perception that doctors work extremely hard — way too hard, probably. I think many people have the preconceived notion that doctors “don’t listen” — I have been guilty of this myself. I’m glad this book is out there to remind people that communication is a two-way street and coach them on *how* to relate to their docs.

  4. July 6, 2010 11:53 am

    Sounds like a great book – I love learning about the medical field and ‘alternative’ paths to keep illnesses away. It’s also interesting to see some inside information/stats.

  5. July 8, 2010 10:28 am

    Thank you for bringing this book to my attention. I was just trying to explain to my sister the other day why you have to be your own advocate when seeking medical help and not just rely on what the doctor thinks. A lot of times the patient is the one with the most up-to-date information on their health problems. Doctors don’t have much if any time to read medical journals. When I went to get my physical the other week my doctor did not know about the XRMV test for fibromyalgia and that’s been around almost a year I think.

  6. July 13, 2010 4:56 pm

    Wow – sounds like a great book. Found you on Twitter and so glad our paths have crossed. I help patient’s and providers speak the same language and have written an ebook which contains worksheets to help patients give clear concise communication to their providers. Sounds like the author and I are on the same page!

    You can learn more about my work here

    I’ll be following your blog as I love reading! Great job explaining this book.

  7. July 27, 2010 3:46 pm

    Thanks for the comments on my new book. Yes, we have to meet our health care providers in the middle and communicate with them. We are a patient from the time we’re born til the time we dye. We are our own best advocate. Check out We have a FREE download so medical consumers can start their own health care notebooks. Just one step toward becoming an empowered patient.


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