"I have something else I want to talk to you about," said my clinic patient, a little angrily, as we were finishing up.
"Sure. What's the problem?"
"Do you not like me?"
"I like you just fine. Did I do something wrong?"
"Yeah, I want to know if you told them to give me Dr. [Jones] last time."
"I was working in the hospital last month and didn't have any clinic hours. I'm sorry I wasn't able to be the doctor who saw you. It was nothing personal. I just didn't have any clinic hours."
"Yeah, that's fine. No offense, but I don't really care if I see you or I see someone else. I just want to know if you told them to give me Dr. Jones."
"No, they assign based on availability, if your usual doctor isn't going to be there that week."
"Because Dr. Jones was terrible. And I thought maybe you were trying to punish me."
"I'm sorry you had a bad experience with Dr. Jones. He's another resident in the program with me, and I have no reason to think he's anything but a terrific doctor. The note in the chart said the visit went fine."
"Yeah, I didn't like him."
"I'm sorry to hear that. You can definitely request not to see him when you make your next appointment."
"Yeah, can you write it in my chart?"
"They're not going to look in the chart when you make the appointment. The easiest thing to do is just to request not to be assigned to him when you make the appointment."
"Yeah, I just thought you were punishing me for something."
"Even if I had a reason to, that's not something we do. It's our job to deal with everyone the same way, whether we like you or not. And I'm not saying I don't like you, I'm just saying your doctor should never be punishing you for anything."
"I thought maybe you figured out I wasn't taking my pills."
"Wait, you should be taking your pills."
"So you didn't know I wasn't?"
"No, I didn't. You need to tell me these things. You need to take your pills. Why aren't you taking them?"
"Do you forget other things?"
"No. I forget to refill them when I run out."
"You need to do that. And you need to put them in a place where you'll remember, and make it part of your routine. Take them at the same time every day. I can give you an organizer to put them in, so you can keep track of whether you've taken that day's pills."
"I didn't want to tell you I wasn't taking them. I thought you would punish me."
"I'm just trying to help you stay healthy. I don't want to punish you. I want you to be healthy and not need to come to clinic and see me. Can you promise me you'll take the pills?"
"I'll take the pills."
"Good, because if you don't, I'm going to tell them to assign you to Dr. Jones."