Listening to patients is key to a good patient-physician partnership

Listening to patients is key to a good patient-physician partnership

DAYTON, OHIO—When Nancy Knauff, 81, and her husband Glenn Knauff, 83, made appointments with Karen Kirkham, M.D., of Wright State Physicians Geriatrics, they didn’t know what to expect. They had been happy with their previous physician, but that physician left the practice.

They were concerned about starting over with another doctor. But when Kirkham walked through the door and greeted them as though she had known them for a long time, the Knauffs knew that they had made the right decision in choosing her to be their physician. Kirkham listened, looked directly at them and discussed their concerns with them. When the appointment ended, Nancy Knauff gave Kirkham a hug.

“She is probably one of the only doctors that I’ve ever given a hug,” she said. “She made me feel at ease right away. She listened to my concerns and answered all of my questions. She was very attentive to anything I asked.”

Her husband echoed her sentiments. “Dr. Kirkham was in no hurry,” he said. “She listened to me, asked questions and answered my questions.”

For Kirkham, listening to patients is key to a good patient-physician partnership. She asks what is bothering, worrying or concerning them. “I get to know the patient,” said Kirkham, who is an associate professor of internal medicine at the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine. “When I talk to my geriatric patients, each of them has a lovely story. I really like my patients. It’s a privilege to treat them.”

She enjoys geriatrics because she can spend more than 15 minutes with a patient. By doing so, she can better understand the needs of each individual patient. For some patients, she is only a geriatric consultant. For others, she is their primary care physician. Either way, she determines what resources she can bring to each patient and how she can best help manage his or her health.

Kirkham is able to understand her patients because she can identify with them. “I’m a local person. My family is from Springfield,” she said. “This is like treating my relatives and neighbors.”

The Knauffs are looking forward to seeing Kirkham for their regular checkups. They are confident that she will work with them to meet their health care needs. “I would highly recommend her to anyone,” Nancy Knauff said. “I just think she is marvelous. I’ve seen a lot of doctors in my 81 years. She’s very special.”

Wright State Physicians Inc. is composed of more than 180 physicians affiliated with the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine. The group provides primary and specialty care in a wide range of specialized diagnostic and treatment services throughout the Dayton region.

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