The conversation between the doctor and the patient is the most common opportunity for the doctor to try and heal. As I point out in the book, there are many ways in which this conversation is often suboptimal, overlooked, and given short shrift in medical education: both in the training of medical students and in the continuing education of medical professionals.
On the way to what we hope will be systematic reform in both professional practice and medical education, which will privilege personal interaction over the quick fix of reflex procedure or lab test, it is - unfortunately - mostly up to the person adrift in our health system to find the doctor it is actually possible to talk to.
Which kind of doctor should that be, though? Ideally, you find a combination of skill, knowledge, personality, and sympathy, someone you can stick with for a while. Like as not, that person does not exist.
But if we stick it out with the imperfect person who inhabits the exam room, perhaps we can train them to be a better doctor (or nurse, or PA). Yes, part of our role is to improve matters even if we are the patient, even in the midst of our pain and illness.
The doctor has to measure up but we have to help them do it.