Here’s the thing, patients want to listen to you and follow your advice. They really do. You just need to be convincing and this can be a challenge. What you know, and what patients don’t know, is that medicine is NOT an exact science. There is room for guessing, taking the better odds, using gestalt, and using your intuition. But that is for you to keep to yourself. That doesn’t mean you can’t say you don’t know when you really don’t know. That doesn’t mean you can’t preface your conclusions with “I never say always and never say never”. That is what I do. But like a magician who doesn’t command the room or who doesn’t explain enough to build up a story (and anticipation) then you too will lose the room or the patient.
I would like to preface this recommendation by reminding you that you need to be competent. By all means, know your stuff. Keep current. Pay attention. That being said, you also need to be confident or else you will not convince or reassure your patient. That doesn’t mean you should get overconfident and cocky. There is a fine line between knowing what you are doing versus letting your ego take over your life and you becoming a narcissistic jerk. I have seen those doctors and they are great, big douchebags with trophy wives, expensive toys and are miserable inside.
Be the elder statesman and not the Maserati- driving neurosurgeon who thinks he walks on water. Be the Marcus Welby and not Dr. Gregory House. You are a competent and CONFIDENT doctor who is there to listen, give advice and hopefully help. Act nervous and unsure and you will turn patients off. Act arrogant and you will turn patients off. Find the sweet spot between them and you will be all right. Believe in yourself and patients will believe in you.