How To Thank A Doctor
By its very nature, the relationship between patient and physician is deeply personal. Patients and their families trust doctors with their health, and when the physician does an excellent job it’s not uncommon for patients to want to express their gratitude with a gift or token of appreciation.
The issue of accepting gifts from patients is tricky for physicians because it raises a lot of questions about ethics and blurs the line of professional boundaries. Even if youhave the best of intentions, physicians may feel obligated to decline an extravagant or expensive gift from a patient to avoid giving the impression that it will influence their care or treatment. Furthermore, a gift worth a high monetary value can be considered payment for services under the law, and accepting such a gift can put the physician in a risky position legally. But as Dr. David Brendel, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, points out, “In some cases, to reject [a gift] could be very disruptive to the relationship.”
So what is the proper protocol when a patient wants to thank their doctor or show appreciation for their life-changing services? What is considered an appropriate token of gratitude, and what oversteps the boundaries of the physician-patient relationship?
To avoid putting your physician in an awkward ethical position, here are some ideas for expressing gratitude to your physician while keeping it appropriate.
Send a fruit basket or baked goods
Whether homemade cookies, a box of chocolate, or a good ol' fashioned fruit basket, food is a gift that most physicians will truly appreciate and feel comfortable accepting. It's not too expensive or personal, and it can be shared with other members of their medical team and staff to make sure everyone feels appreciated.
Post a positive review online
Spread the word about your amazing experience with your physician! Give recommendations to friends/acquaintances, write a glowing review on Doximity or Healthgrades, offer testimonials for their website, or carry their business card to give out.
Make something yourself
A handmade gift such as a drawing or decorated picture frame is an excellent way to show gratitude in a way that won't make your doctor uncomfortable. Just make sure it's appropriate for a professional patient-physician relationship.
Pay it forward
Sometimes the best way you can say thank you is to amplify the good that comes out of one's work! Ask your doctor for the name of their favorite charity or philanthropic cause and say thank you (while also benefiting others!) by making a contribution in their name.
....And the best way to send a thank you - Send a small handwritten note
It's important to remember that your doctor does not expect anything more than a sincere "thank you" from a happy patient. A sincere sentiment of gratitude is all any doctor could ask for, and physicians will cherish a thoughtful handwritten thank you card far more than an expensive gift. We love this amazing service that actually handwrites your note (with a real pen on paper) and sends it in an envelope (written the same way) to any U.S. address. You can choose from all kinds of different cards and you can even choose what handwriting style to use.