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Dr. Michael Feiler takes extra time to stop and listen to better help patients

“Caring for patients is what all doctors do, so it’s important for the therapeutic relationships that the patients know you care. We need to display that to patients. It’s not just the nice thing to do, it’s the right thing to do. Patients have better outcomes when they know you want what’s best for them.

For me, the key is making sure to take time to listen to patients. We’re all busy and moving quickly to get through our day, but it’s important to take time to really hear patients out. If you listen carefully, a lot of patients will tell you what the diagnosis is, but we need to take that time first. I try to guide the conversation to get basic information and ask open-ended questions so they have a chance to explain their symptoms.

It makes my job much more enjoyable. Medicine is about taking care of people. We’re not just technicians. Getting to know people makes my job more satisfying and enjoyable. I think most doctors will tell you that stories are the most important part of diagnosing patients, not just physical exams or other tests we run.”

Dr. Michael Feiler
Assistant professor of medicine, Gastroenterology Division
14 years at Duke