Many people love to vilify doctors. They think we are all greedy and we don’t listen. They say we perform procedures just for profit. We are not available when we need them. Sure, there are doctors that fit this stereotype. But, in my experience, most doctors do not and care about their patients trying to do the best for them.
I hear patients complain about other doctors and some of the stories are quite mind-boggling. Yet, some of these patients keep returning to the doctors who they feel are not looking out for their best interests. Like anything in life, there will be personalities that just don’t go well together. Doctors are human, and we all have our own unique characteristics. That is why you need to spend time finding the doctor that is the best one for you.
It is important to be comfortable and trust your doctor for a myriad of reasons. For one thing, if you don’t like or trust your physician, there is a good chance you are not going to follow their advice. They may be giving you the best advice, but maybe you don’t like their bedside manner. If you skip that medication or don’t do that test, it may delay your diagnosis or worsen your clinical outcome. That is why you need to shop for a doctor like anything else. You wouldn’t drive just any car if someone told you to buy it. So, don’t just go to any doctor because someone, such as your insurance company, told you to do so.
What should you look for when finding your doctor?
Look at the basic things first. If you work late hours, look for a doctor who has late or weekend hours. Try to match one to your work schedule and lifestyle.
Consider the staff. Is the front desk clerk someone you look forward to talk to? Or is she someone you wish would disappear? Your life may be on the line one day, and you want to be able to get the help you need. If the staff frequently misses calls or messages, or you avoid calling because they are mean, perhaps that is not the best practice to be in.
If you call for an appointment, are you able to get one in a reasonable length of time? If you call with a cough and they tell you there are no appointments available for six weeks, then that is probably not the best place to go when you are sick. What good is a doctor when they are not available when you need them?
Do you feel your doctor listens to you? Doctors are preoccupied with many things these days and pressured to see more and more patients. But, when they sit down in front of you, are they hearing what you are saying?
Does the doctor give you enough time to ask questions? I hear from patients all the time that they saw a specialist and felt they were rushed out of the office. Write down your questions if you need to and don’t leave the room until you felt they have been answered.
When you leave the doctors’ office, do you understand your medical condition and the treatment plan? This is your body and life here. You should make any decisions without fully understanding what is involved.
People spend hours researching cell phones and laptops before buying them. Yet, they settle for any doctor. If you are not comfortable with who you found for whatever reason, and it is not necessarily anything bad on the part of the doctor or the patient. it is time to continue shopping.
Linda Girgis is a family physician who blogs at Dr. Linda.
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