I have run into patients recently that have asked me how to choose a doctor or what do you do when you no longer have a doctor and need someone for your every day needs and what if you now need an oncologist or any kind of specialist, how do you decide? Well first off, you are dealing with a loss if you no longer have a physician especially having had a relationship with that doctor for whatever time there has been that you were with that practice, next comes the scramble to find a new one. You can call the hospital and receive a list of who is accepting patients or you can ask friends and family who they would recommend and third - make sure that your first impression is a positive one and that this doctor is someone you feel comfortable with and that you can talk to. What needs do you have from your physician, do you want someone that is right to the point, do you want someone that will talk to you and listen to you, do expect and need compassion and caring, do you need a two way street?
I often hear people ask how many opinions should I get- my response- how many will make you comfortable and able to go forth with what plan has been set before you. Now all of this does not fall on the physician's shoulders as you are a major part of this process and are you a compliant patient? Not that you cannot question what is happening but be prepared, make your list before you go in, have a set of ALL your meds including over the counter meds and vitamins and supplements you are taking. Do not withold information and please don't play cat and mouse and make them guess what is going on. You are the best predictor of what is happening in your body. You may not be able to put a name too it but you know if it is sharp or dull pain and where it is and how long it lasts. I always say try to look at the who, what, where, why and how of each symptom and be prepared to give that information to your physician. Include in your discussion the other doctors that you go to and what medications they have you on. A doctor cannot be effective with only half the picture. It is important to know your family health history. I know that in my family we have various cancers and high blood pressure. We as a team (doctor and myself) can be pro-active then in what will keep me healthy. It is then important that you follow what the doctor has recommended and if there are any reasons now or in the future that you can't, you need to relay that information to the physician. It takes two to make a relationship work so please be prepared to put your cards on the table and then deal with the hand they give you. You may not need that physician for anything major right now other than the occasional cold, flu shot and routine yearly tests but in the future if the need arises, you want someone you can trust, that knows you and is on your side.