I have a great solution to all those times I don’t know an answer but know right where to get it: I look it up! Makes sense, right? Recently, however, I read about a study that correlates the overtly disclosed need to look up information with lower trust scores for physicians.

Sadly, I can believe it to be true. After all, this here related study finds that most of us spend more time researching our next vacation than we do our surgeon. And our emerging brand of benchmarking tool? Angie's List! There you can read reviews on how "nice" the guy who'll remove your gall bladder is likely to be. (Good luck with that.)

I, too, can attest to suffering the client brush-off in cases where a Welby-esque brand of comforting omniscience was preferred to my wholly untrustworthy way with reference materials. Since committing this faux pas early on in my career I’ve learned to be a little more discreet. I guess pet owners don’t want to think the young thing before them has no knowledge and must — horrors! — resort to looking it up.

Meanwhile, it’s the fresh new grads with squeaky-clean computers that really don’t need to look things up. They’re simply still imbued with the good sense that informs them they should.

Yeah, it’s depressing to me … knowing that most doc-watchers out there would rather have a weathered old bird who doesn’t give a poo about the umpteen zillionth thing s/he couldn’t be bothered to recall.

Yes, it’s my firm belief that physicians, veterinarians, car mechanics, exterminators, and Wal-Mart check-out clerks who know exactly where to find the information they lack, and have the wherewithal to go get it, tend to be above mediocre. In my book, unless one is gifted with an indelible memory and an outsized ability to keep up with their workplace's myriad daily evolutions, then frequent (nay, daily) look-sees would seem to be the done thing. Why would medicine be any different?

But then, I guess that assumes the working individual in question is honestly in touch with their knowledge base/skill set and is willing to admit — most critically, to themselves — that they do not have the necessary know-how or knowledge the situation merits. Big IF, right?

Yet what’s more tragic still is the common belief that perpetuates such attitudes on the part of human and animal care providers: the expectation that doctors are somehow removed from the earthly need to use reference material in almost every aspect of their daily lives. Having an office stuffed with book-like objects is expected of a smart person that is being entrusted with your life ... that they should actually have to use them is quite another.

Those who would look askance at anyone who would openly seek knowledge — and in so doing blatantly defy the appearance of all-knowingness — are by their very doc-deifying ways helping to ensure the perpetuation of the arrogant, self-entitled, omniscient medical professional.

In the end, which would you rather have? A nerdy veterinarian who excitedly urges you to check out the three new studies he just unearthed on his laptop … or the one who expects you to believe she knows just exactly what she’s all about without having to reference a thing?

Your choice.

Dr. Patty Khuly

Pic of the day: "Dog Intelligence" by alicejamieson