Jennifer Nayor, MD, of Concord Gastroenterology Associates sat down for an episode of Emerson’s Health Works Here podcast series to provide insights on developing a relationship with your gastroenterologist. Continue reading for relationship building tips, and to listen to the podcast.
Given the personal nature of gastrointestinal (GI) issues, patients may sometimes feel embarrassed to discuss their symptoms. Key to overcoming these feelings of discomfort is developing an honest and open relationship between the patient and their gastroenterologist.
“I see gastroenterology patients all day long,” says Dr. Nayor. “I don’t think patients should be embarrassed about anything, because that’s my job. That’s what I’m here to do — to help with those symptoms.”
Frequency of Contact
The frequency of visits can help patients develop a relationship with their GI doctor. “The frequency of visits varies,” observes Dr. Nayor. “It depends on the condition they’re coming to see me for.” An acute patient may have an initial appointment with a follow-up in a week — or a month — to check in on their symptoms, test results, and to see what effect the recommended treatments have had.
There are other patients she sees for more chronic conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, acid reflux, or Barrett’s esophagus. As treatment progresses and the condition is well-controlled, doctor visits become less frequent. “But, it’s important we keep up that relationship so I can continue to monitor their symptoms over time,” she adds.
Establishing a Connection
Regardless of the number of visits, it is important for the doctor and patient both to see the other as a person, and not just a condition (in the case of the patient) or an expert (in the case of the doctor).
“I try to learn about my patients, not just in terms of their medical conditions, but in the social context of what is going on in their lives,” Dr. Nayor explains. “I like to ask patients about their families, about their jobs, about things that are going on outside of the clinic visit. It helps me understand their condition and how I can best treat them.”
The vice versa is also true. “I think it is nice when patients come into my office and they ask me about me. I’m not just a doctor. I have a family, I have interests outside of the office. So, I think it is good to know who your doctor is, too.”
Clearly, communication is very important. Dr. Nayor relies on her office staff to transmit patient messages right away. Another means of communication that can be beneficial are patient portals that allow patients to send messages directly to their doctor. “I think portals are useful, because they connect to the patient’s medical record so I can see their medical history in the context of their most recent communication.”
Talking It Out
What are some tips to discuss embarrassing symptoms? Dr. Nayor advises not holding back on the details. “Everything you are feeling is important. No symptom is insignificant, and it is important to discuss all of the symptoms you are having with your doctor. That is why you are seeing the doctor. Sometimes, it’s those little details — even an embarrassing little detail — that helps me figure out what is going on with my patients.”
Something to keep in mind is that gastroenterologists have heard it all. “I hear about poops and farts and burps and all that stuff all day long,” Dr. Nayor shares. “You don’t need to find exactly the right words. Some patients are worried about describing their symptoms in exactly the right way. For me, what is most important is if patients tell me how they’re feeling, and then I can use that information and figure out what is going on.”
One approach Dr. Nayor suggests is for patients to write down any questions or symptoms they may have — which she believes helps with some of the anxiety. “Everyone has questions, and there is never a bad question. My job as a gastroenterologist is to help answer those questions. So, just thinking about it in your mind before coming into the visit really helps the visit go smoothly.”
HealthWorks Here Podcast
Listen to Dr. Nayor’s podcast episode, “Developing a Relationship With Your GI Doctor”.
Visit our podcast page to find the latest episode or subscribe to the Health Works Here Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and wherever podcasts can be heard.
About Jennifer Nayor, MD
Jennifer Nayor, MD, is a gastroenterologist with Concord Gastroenterology Associates. Dr. Nayor is board certified in gastroenterology and focuses on health concerns including colorectal cancer screening and prevention, esophageal disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, gastrointestinal motility disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, and celiac disease.
Dr. Nayor is accepting new patients. To request an appointment with Dr. Nayor, please fill out the appointment request form on this page, or call Concord Gastroenterology Associates at 978-287-3835.