Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Patients For A Moment: The Search For Dr. Right

Everyone looks for different things when they meet a new doctor. For some people (I suspect mostly it's generally healthy folks), it's simply a matter of convenience: Is the doctor's office convenient to my home and/or work, and does the doctor work convenient hours for me?

When Scott and I look for pediatricians when I was pregnant, we looked at all those kinds of things. We ended up going with a pediatrician in a large practice that was relatively close to Scott's work so he could attend Ellie's appointments, but the two biggest factors that swayed me towards this doc was that my OB took her children to this pediatrician and the practice offered after-hours clinics every weekday evening and weekend mornings. And that's been huge for us, especially those weekend "urgent" appointments because kids have a knack for being totally fine until Friday evening or Sunday morning. Mind you, I would not have chosen this pediatrician if I didn't like her and think she would offer the level of care I wanted despite all the other pluses. But I know other parents who don't really like their pediatrician but stick with him/her out of convenience. 

The topic of how one chooses a doctor, and what qualities are most important to other people fascinates me. Back when I was just a few years out of college, a co-worker tried seeing a psychologist for some help in relationship issues. I don't remember why, exactly, I asked her for her therapist's name, but I went to see her and continued for about a year. I loved that therapist, and the feeling was at least a little mutual because she said she had never had another client who actually did the homework reading completely and came back ready to discuss it thoroughly. Funny thing though? The colleague who gave me this therapist's name never really clicked with her, and didn't see her for long. Meanwhile, I've compared (and often found lacking) every therapist I've met to the one I liked way back when. So one person's ideal doc can be someone else's mediocre experience. 

When I needed a topic to host Patients For A Moment, my favorite blog carnival started by Duncan Cross and now wrangled by Leslie, I asked folks what they look for in a doctor. I got some great contributions that I'm excited to share with all of you! So, read on ...

Brittney, from the blog The Road I'm On, has recently needed to find a new doc because she moved to attend veterinary school (wow!) and had to get started with a new primary care doc, something that can be very complicated for those of us with multiple chronic illneses. In her post, Quality Control, Brittney writes, "I wasn’t sure what I was looking for when I first met her, but now I know there are four things I should look for."  

I'm literally left stuttering after reading what one doctor told Annie Martin, who blogs at It's Time To Get Over How Fragile You Are, who wrote about at least one doctor who told her, "if nature wants me to be sick I should just embrace the sickness and wait for it to go away." OMG. Read more in her post My Loves and Loathes In Terms Of Doctors.

I love the metaphor of doctors as mechanics treating bodies instead of cars that Sandra Lee of the blog Always Well Within made in her post about The Perfect Doctor. And she's absolutely right when she says some are better than others and it pays to be selective (when possible) because you can always replace your car but there's no method for replacing your body. Yet. 

Rachel, who blogs at the aptly named Tales of Rachel and is in the midst of reconsidering several of her doctors and took the opportunity to write about The Myth Of The Perfect Doctor? We all have to make decisions about our priorities, and it's true (in my opinion) that sometimes having one fabulous doc means you can settle for less than fabulous with some of your other doctors.

As mom to a kindergartner and being a first-generation Sesame Street-er, I took particular pleasure in reading Maria Pfeifer's post entitled "♫ One of these things is not like the of these things just doesn’t belong.... ♫", where she compares some types of doctors that drive all of us crazy to various characters on "Sez Me" Street. It's a must read, as is her blog,
My Life Works Today! A Living Learning and Lupus Network, in general. I think we all aspire to find Kermit the Frog type doctors!

Ellen S., who is a community leader and blogger over at WEGO Health, also used humor in A Physician's Ten Commandments to address the very serious topic of what a chronically ill person wants in a doctor.

OK, so not that I'm picking favorites here -- everyone who contributed to this PFAM edition is totally awesome, really, truly awesome; I honestly mean it! -- but Lisa Emrich of Brass and Ivory is one of my particular blogger heroes. We recently came thisclose to meeting in person, but even though we didn't manage to cross paths, I was tickled to be in her general vicinity and find others who know her in "real" life think even more highly of her than I do from reading and emailing. OK, enough gushing now. :-) 

Lisa, who writes about living with both multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, writes in her post How Did You Find Your Doctors? that it would be too simple to attribute getting good docs to sheer luck, but circumstance do play a large role in our choices and outcomes.

Good reading, everyone! (And thanks to my contributors for their excellent writing!) The next edition of Patients For A Moment will be hosted Nov. 24 by Brittney at The Road I'm On. Keep an eye on her blog for the topic question, or look for an announcement here when it's posted.

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