There should be a lot of thought and consideration involved in finding a doctor to take care of you and your family’s needs.
When searching for a doctor, asking for recommendations from friends and family is an excellent place to start, but choosing a doctor is a personal decision. A good physician for one person may not be a good fit for another. At the end of the day, you should feel empowered to advocate for yourself as you select a doctor.
Below we’ll share four tips for picking the best physician for you.
1. Do Your Homework
Once you’ve determined your needs, or perhaps you’ve been referred to a specialist, roll your sleeves up and start digging. Word of mouth, through friends and family members, is a great starting point and can help guide you on your search.
Get online and check out the reviews on Google, Facebook, and Healthgrades. These sites will provide insights on physician credentials, specialties, years in practice, patient reviews, education and, in some cases, data about malpractice, sanctions, and board actions. Your insurance company’s provider directory may also have patient reviews.
And before you go into the office, call ahead to a prospective practice and gauge how you’re treated on the phone. There’s a lot you can learn from the management of a practice and how you’re treated when you first call in. If you feel like you’re just a number and it’s difficult to get through, it will most likely be hard to get help when you have a question or problem.
2. Listen to Your Gut
You don’t have a lot of time to get to know your physician before s/he begins examining you. So listen to your instincts. If you feel safe, at ease, and comfortable with your physician, then trust that intuition.
First impressions are also critical. Do you feel at ease right away? Can you relate to the doctor? Do you feel comfortable talking with him/her? If something inside you says ‘no,’ or you feel that your doctor isn’t someone that you can be completely open and honest with, then they probably aren’t the right physician for you.
3. Trust Is Key
Along with that first impression, you’re going to have to trust your provider throughout your care. You should feel like you can be upfront and honest about even the most embarrassing things.
Be sure that you feel as comfortable as possible discussing sensitive topics with them. Ask yourself, ‘Can I talk to this person about the things that make me self-conscious or about which I might feel ashamed?’ If not, keep searching. There’s a very intimate relationship that develops between you and your gynecologist, so find that person who makes you feel relaxed and at ease.
4. Bedside Manner Is a Must
While all doctors should be respectful and compassionate, those qualities take on even greater importance when it comes to your health.
Your doctor should be a good listener, engage in a dialogue, take your questions and concerns seriously, and explain his or her advice and actions. If you feel your doctor doesn’t listen or have time for you, then he or she probably isn’t the right one for you. Credentials, experience and expertise are undoubtedly important, but once you’re between the office walls, comfort is critical.
Bottom line: don’t settle if you think your doctor isn’t interested to help and spend time with you or if you feel you’re not getting what you need. You should feel heard and respected. Your physician should address you by name, look you in the eye (not at your chart), ask questions as needed, and give you time to talk without interruption.