Should You Give Your Doctor a Gift?


I used to get lots of gifts from patients during the holidays. Not so much anymore.

I’m more patient-centered than ever. And the older I get the more relaxed I get with my patients. I’d like to think that I’m more likeable. But still fewer gifts than ten or fifteen years ago.

So what gives?

Times have changed. Doctors nowadays are dispensable. If a patient doesn’t like what they’ve got they can move on. But this is probably a good thing. It’s what patients should do.  In the old days there was less of that. We needed a tight relationship with our providers. It was essential. Gifting may have been seen as a means of getting what one needs. Not so much now.

But in this evolving world of patient empowerment is there role for the cultivation of a stronger relationship from the patient’s end?

When it comes to my relationships I care less about cookies and gourmet pears. Intent resonates more with me these days. Much like a handwritten note, which seems to be so much more powerful than twenty years ago.

The world of patient care is changing quickly and not for the better. Caring for the chronically ill is stressful, backbreaking work.  If you’ve got a relationship that works think about pointing out the value in what you’ve got. Gourmet pears aside, remember that a sincere, heartfelt thank-you represents one of the best gifts you can give your doctor.