Primary Care

Don’t let fear of doctors hinder health

Doctor holds patients hand

By William Kaplan,DO, Nuvance Health Medical Practice — Primary Care


Some people fear going to the doctor and will delay important annual checkups, screenings and immunizations. Reasons vary from fear of a painful procedure to anxiety about a bad diagnosis, to mistrust of medical professionals and self-consciousness about being examined.


Unhealthy behaviors

One common explanation I hear is that they know they have not made the healthiest choices and/or feel embarrassed about not addressing health issues sooner. That is okay.

Doctors understand that achieving good health is a journey with lots of bumps and twists in the road. We feel grateful that patients are willing to come to us to help guide them along the path to their destination of a healthy, happy life.

Speak openly

They key to a productive doctor-patient relationship is openness. We want the patient to feel comfortable with us as we have conversations regarding their health. The way we can best help someone improve their health is if they feel open to sharing any issues they are facing. We discuss how they feel and the effect it is having on them at home, work and school. Also, the effect home, work and school have on their health.


Find a good match

Some people may have had bad experiences with doctors in the past, where they feel talked down to by the physician. As a field, we have embraced the philosophy that we are part of the team in caring for patients. But, the patient is the captain of the team.

The patients are ultimately the one responsible for their health and it is important that they fully understand the decisions that are happening and are on board with the care they are receiving. They should understand why blood tests are ordered or why they are taking their medication and should feel comfortable discussing their care with us.

Here are a few additional ways to feel more at ease at the doctors:

  • Bring along a family member or friend who makes you laugh and is good at distracting you.
  • Distract yourselves with your favorite music or Netflix show while you wait.
  • Avoid scheduling appointments on days you are already stressed or at the end of a long day, when you just want to relax.
  • Let the office know ahead of time that doctors make you anxious.
  • Have your vitals rechecked when you are feeling less anxious and stressed.
  • Stop thinking about the whatifs and worst-case diagnosis.

At the end of the day, we want our patients to feel satisfied with the care they receive, to understand the next steps in their health journey and feel comfortable that their goals and concerns are taken into account.

William Kaplan, DO

Dr. William Kaplan is a family medicine provider with Nuvance Health Medical Practice in New Fairfield, Conn. You can search for a primary care provider near you here or learn more about primary care here.