5 Things You Do That Your Doctor-Friend Hates

Thursday, October 15, 2015 Stef dela Cruz, MD 12 Comments

Do you have a friend who happens to be a doctor? Has he ever been Mr. Hyde with you or is he always the perfect Dr. Jekyll?

Chances are, he's very good at keeping his inner demon at bay, even when there are five things you keep doing that your doctor-friend hates.

doctor pet peevesGet ready, folks. This one’s a stinger.


5 Pet Peeves Your Doctor-Friend Has About You

Take a look at the list below and find out which pet peeves your doctor-friend has about you. Are you ready for your shock treatment?


Doctors’ pet peeve #1:
When you text, “What should I take for my cough/
stomach ache/ itch?”

“Dude, what’s the best medicine for cough?”

Yep, it’s a question you’ve probably asked a doctor-friend at least once in your lifetime. However, when you're sending your physician-buddy vague text messages about your symptoms and he can't see you in person to do a thorough checkup, you're putting him on the spot for two reasons:

  1. A. Medical advice without the privilege of proper history-taking and physical exam is not without risks, both for you and your doctor-friend. It’s also bound to be an ethical dilemma.
  2. B. Your doctor-friend may remind you that you need a proper consultation, not just advice via text message, which you might misconstrue as a shrug-off. Suddenly, your “doctor-friend” gets demoted to just “doctor”, period.

For the record, not every cold, stomach ache, or skin itch leads to just one diagnosis and treatment. You need to be seen by a doctor.

Dr Google…As long as it’s not this doctor.

Unless you're texting your doctor-friend so that you can meet up for a proper checkup (which, by the way, may still be problematic), it's best if you ask not for an on-the-spot SMS diagnosis, but for advice on what kind of doctor to go to for a consultation.


Doctors’ pet peeve #2:
When you tell your doctor-friend why he should recommend to his patients the many herbal supplements you're taking

Medicine is evidence-based. Without evidence, nothing separates doctors from quacks.

Some supplements do work for certain indications. However, it is important to find credible research done that backs up any claim. Many doctors know that “natural” supplements aren’t always effective, for instance. Some of them are outright unsafe!

It’s time to accept that many herbal supplements just don’t work. Remember the “no approved therapeutic claims” reminder on the label? Yep, it's there for a reason.


Doctors’ pet peeve #3:
When you pass on your medication to other people because “it works”

In a nutshell: You are not a doctor. You are not licensed to prescribe medication.

Different diseases can have similar symptoms. Actually, even the same disease may require varying drugs. For instance, your mom’s anti-hypertensive meds may differ from your father’s.

Don't be an unlicensed “drug pusher”. Leave the prescribing to the experts.


Doctors’ pet peeve #4:
When you ask for medical advice but refuse to follow it

Filipinos have one word for you: pasaway. Stubborn that you are, you know what needs to be done but you refuse to do it.

It leaves a bad taste in your doctor-friend’s mouth if he gives you professional advice that you conveniently choose to ignore. When you're lost, why ask for directions from a source you don’t trust to begin with?

That’s not to say you should follow any doctor’s advice blindly. However, if you do ask your physician-friend for advice and you choose not to follow it, it may hurt your relationship. Ask yourself if you’re better off looking for a doctor who isn’t a close friend.


Doctors’ pet peeve #5:
When you judge a doctor’s proficiency based on how many drugs he’s asking you to take

Maybe you have a cold and you want a drug for it, which is why you're upset that your doctor simply asked you to drink lots of water and rest. Maybe you have weight problems and you’re not happy that your doctor told you to stop drinking that darned soda.

Surprise, surprise: Not all medical conditions require a pill. Certain self-limiting (read: they go away on their own) viral infections, for instance, do not necessitate antibiotic use.

If you think the fee you pay at the doctor’s clinic should always come with a drug prescription, nobody can force you to believe otherwise. If you feel that you know more about medicine despite never having passed med school, there's definitely no pill for that.


My pet peeve: When people think doctors should be perfect

Before you go on full beast mode, remember that I’m not saying you have no right to demand competence from your doctor, whether he’s a friend or not. Of course, you do.

The problem is when you expect doctors to be perfect. They’re human, which means they aren’t perfect, unbelievably scary as that sounds.

We have quirks and pet peeves, just like you do. Yes, your doctor friend will most probably have at least one – if not all – of the above pet peeves, whether or not he’s in the running for Mr. Congeniality.

Your doctor-friend may never tell you these things because, well, he wants to remain your doctor-friend. Trust me, he's thinking them, even if he adamantly denies it.

But then again, I may be wrong. After all, I'm just a doctor.

Stef dela CruzAbout the blogger
Stef dela Cruz is a vegan doctor and writer. She received the 2013 Award for Health Media from the Department of Health. She is the editor of The Manila Bulletin's Animal Scene Magazine. Get in touch if you want to invite her as a speaker!


  1. How would you respond to Mr Ramon Bautista who once said (paraphrased) "ilang taon silang nag-aral para maging doctor tapos ang sasabihin lang sa akin, tubig at pahinga?"

  2. My pet peeves about doctors as a patient:

    1. Most of them are always late for appointments. They set their clinic at a certain time, they arrive one hour late... two hours late. Why? They chose the same time to go on their rounds while patients at the clinic (who are suffering by the way) are waiting. Sometimes they're still at their other clinic. What, do clinic times overlap? No, that's because the doctor was late for that clinic as well. So unprofessional. So inconsiderate.

    2. A lot of doctors are always on vacation. My doctor took a half month vacation. When he arrived, he was at the clinic for one day before going on another vacation. What's going on? Don't they care anymore?

    1. Its called Lifestyle Gerry. Wouldn't you like to take a vacation when you want one and not when someone tells you to take one. And yes Doctors do still care but they alsdo have their own lives to live and enjoy.

  3. Clinton, I know him personally. His jokes can be very tongue-in-cheek - they are sometimes offensive but actually intended to be that way. Many jokes are not meant for everyone - some will find them too much, in the same way I'm sure this article has offended at least one person.

    But I wouldn't take it seriously. I'd tell him, "Walanghiya ka! Babawi ako sayo," slap his arm, give him the stink-eye, and forget about it. I tend not to take jabs too seriously.

    But then again, that's just me. To each his own. :)

  4. Gerry, hahaha! Mine, too. ;) I am, after all, also a patient.

    Actually, I have a longer list - I'm thinking of writing about them in a separate post. Thank you for the idea!

  5. Clinton, I almost forgot - I would also ask him to read this article. Haha. ;)

  6. I have earned the ire of my med friends the many times I slipped about checking with Google first. Can't help it - Google has made life easier (and cost efficient) in so many ways! But I do get the point of their "pagalit" so nowadays, I try to be a bit more patient when they couldn't get back to me with answers as fast as a search engine.

    Hi Stef! So nice to come across your blog. What a rich resource of knowledge - medical-related and beyond. :)

  7. Hi, Dani! Haha, yes, I can imagine how your MD friends might berrate you the same way my mom berrates me when I stay up late! :) And thank you for being so patient with your doctor friends - that makes you a great friend indeed.

    Thank you for your nice words! Hope you have fun while browsing my blog!

  8. Hi po! I'm studying BS Psychology in PNU. (I want to be a doctor). Gusto ko lang po itanong kung ilang taon ang med at ilang taon kayo nung natapos nyo ang med at maging doctor. Thank you po

    1. Not including college, about 5 to 6 years. Specialists spend more time studying and training!

  9. Hi, Dr. Stef.

    Thanks for writing this post.

    I just like to point out that many people don't have the budget or emergency fund to go to a doctor when sudden illness strikes. I suppose this is one of the reasons why people with doctor-friends use technology and takes advantage of the friendship to seek medical advice. It's convenient and, of course, free. However, this isn't commendable to do.

    I completely agree with you when you said that doctors aren't perfect; they're human too. Some of the incidents that I've encountered that support this realization for me are:

    * There are doctors who expect or would like their friends to be their patients. Some are okay if their friends choose non-friend doctors, while others begrudge it.

    * There are doctors who can be discriminatory, such as when they prefer to have fellow doctors as godparents of their children because their non-doctor-friends fail to meet certain personal standards.

    * There are doctors who are friendly to their patients, but they rarely smile or simply ignore non-patients who greet or smile at them.

    * There are doctors who think that their views are superior than others even in non-medical issues.

    I could go on, but the bottom line remains: Doctors are as flawed as everyone else on this planet. I just hope many doctors recognize and admit that as well.

    There's one topic that you might want to consider writing about (I'm not sure if you've already written about it) - i.e. reasons why some licensed doctors would rather do other work (e.g., medical research, NGO work, policy-making, teaching, writing, etc.) than practice in hospitals, health centers, and clinics.

    Thanks and more success to you and your blog.

  10. Thanks, NS, for your kind words! Yes, doctors are definitely just as human as everyone else. I know what you mean about doctors who don't smile at other people, but I have yet to meet a doctor who won't take non-doctor godparents - I hope I don't. :)

    What a coincidence that you mention technology as an equalizer of sorts for people from all walks of life when it comes to health issues! There's a new technology that just might fill in the void so that those without funds (or time) can ask questions about health without relying on potentially incomplete (and therefore dangerous) information from just a handful of online sources... or from a doctor friend. :)

    Nice suggestion about the topic, too! Doctors don't need to have cookie cutter roles. Many contribute to society not by donning the iconic white coat and making hospital rounds. I will put that in my to-write list.

    Thanks, NS! Do drop by my blog again next time.