Your Health: What Makes a Good Doctor? Some Answers.

Your Health: What Makes a Good Doctor? Some Answers.

Choosing a doctor is not like selecting a friend, and certainly not like picking a car salesman. Yes, medicine is a type of business transaction. The doctor is providing a service and you want excellent care.

You also want a great car at the right price–another business transaction. But you only deal with the car person over a short period of time. Health is another matter. A doctor is someone you will probably deal with  frequently and bottom line: this is your health; this is your life. You need to make the right choice.

So keep in mind, after reading this post, that during the process of finding the right doctor you can: 1. read about a prospective doctor on line; 2. ask friends who they use or would avoid; 3. actually interview the doctor during a short appointment. 

NOW LET’S ASK: WHAT MAKES A GOOD DOCTOR?

Seventeen nurses, physicians and healthcare workers replied to your question. These are folks who work in the trenches–so I paid attention to their answers. Below are the ones I felt you needed to know.

  1. “Any great anything–friend, partner, doctor–is going to listen to you. You are exposing yourself, you are vulnerable. You want them to hear you, respect you.
  2. The doctor shows that she has time for you. Though the doctor might know a great deal, she also must care a great deal.
  3. The doctor should show interest not only in your complaint (back pain) but also in your concern (I babysit and can’t lift my grandson.)
  4. Often a patient is embarrassed relating information about their condition. When the doctor starts asking questions, they must be good listeners, know when to probe a bit further. D. “Are you sexually active?” P. “Well, I’m married.” D. “Okay, but what does that mean?”
  5. A great doctor is more interested in getting you off medications than on them. 
  6. A doctor should explain, when prescribing a new medication, what the patient’s life will be like, the side-effects, of that new drug. 
  7. Though a doctor may have been seeing you over the years, a great doctor does not make assumptions about your life. She/he asks questions to get to answers like: “I lost my job.” I fell two weeks ago.”
  8. If you are accompanied by a family member, a great doctor realizes that you might not have shared everything and provides a phone number for a later call. Also repeats the care plan before the visit is over. 
  9. Though doctors see patients an average of every 20 minutes, a good doctor slows down, pays attention, to pick up on many more things.
  10. If you have a friend who is a nurse and works in the hospital of the doctor you are considering, ask that nurse who she would pick. Nurses see who does well and who doesn’t.
  11. A great doctor asks so many questions you might want them to stop. But this is good. It’s your health history. It matters. Not-so-great doctors don’t ask much of anything at all.
  12. A great doctor reads, stays up with what in the biz is called “the literature.” That means the most recent medical articles that analyze and research procedures, medications, surgeries etc.
  13. A great doctor wants you to understand. If you hear: “I’m the doctor and I’ll do the thinking,”–run out the door.
  14. A great OB doctor is empathetic, expresses his or her concern if you have a miscarriage, BEFORE explaining why or discussing your medical care.
  15. You have chest pain. A great doctor listens to your whole story to determine the right path to take, uses what they know. Most patients with chest pain need Zantac, not an angioplasty.
  16. A great doctor considers the whole person, like a patient with diabetes who might have a difficult home environment or be unable to travel to a grocery for healthy food. Is their neighborhood safe to walk in to get to the store? Can they afford to buy their meds?

OTHER QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER

What hospital is this doctor affiliated with–a local community hospital, a tertiary care center, a university hospital? Is this physician’s office and the hospital where she has privileges close to your home or a long drive? In an emergency situation, closer will always be better.

  1. Is this doctor board certified in the speciality that you need? Internal medicine board certification is a good place to start if your general health is good. But you may need a cancer or cardiac specialist etc, and that will narrow your choices. (Note: getting an internist in a university group is the best way to go as that physician can then refer you to say an ear, nose and throat, a surgeon or an orthopedic doctor etc in his group.)
  2. If you have trouble speaking English, that’s also a consideration. It’s always good if you are terribly worried about your physical health or running a fever or vomiting or a cancer patient etc that you bring someone with you to your appointment. But it’s not always possible. If language is an issue, you need to make sure you will always be able to communicate with your doctor. Misinformation can lead to your getting sicker or even hospitalization and death.
  3. The age of the doctor you choose or his or her years in practice might also be on your list of concerns. Some people want an older doctor who they feel they would be more comfortable with or who would know more. Others want a younger doctor who will be up on new advances in medicine. All physicians are required to stay up-to-date in their specialty through reading and testing and participating in hands-on programs for recertification.
  4. The gender of your physician might also concern you. (Certainly in the practice of obstetrics and gynecology there has been a major shift–more women in that practice now than men.) But that shouldn’t rule out the skill of male OBGYN’S. When my husband created his list for an internist, his final choice was a female internist physician. I also chose her for my doctor and we have referred her to our friends.
  5. It’s very important to discover if the doctor you are researching is taking on new patients. You might get all excited that you’ve found one, only to discover the practice is closed.
  6. Once you have found one or two you are considering, you can verify their board certification here. You can also go to your home state department of consumer affairs to check for any negative reports about this doctor. And as mentioned above, you can research them online for address, phone number etc.

You might also enjoy: You’re A Candidate for a Good Doctor

Bring Your List of Questions to the Doc’s Office–they have a list too!

Thanks to Stock Snap.io

Thanks to the AARP BULLETIN Sept. 2017

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