I love my doctor. I appreciate the relationship we’ve built in the 10 years since I became his patient. I remember the first meeting when I described my “wish list” for this budding relationship – that I had had enough of doctors (and had frankly avoided them while in my 30s) because of my previous doctor’s approach, which was blunt, critical and dogmatic.
I wanted someone who was willing to be a partner in my health care, not the captain of the ship. In fact as I entered my 40s, I decided it was time for me to claim the title of captain of my health care voyage. And as captain, I wanted a doctor who would be a willing partner of my health care team, who knew the medical literature and best practices, but who also was open to new approaches based on a holistic view of medicine. Based on that conversation, I learned that I had lucked into finding the right doctor.
So I was interested in reading the April edition of More , which has an article, “Have You Outgrown Your Doctor?” by Peg Rosen. The article notes that as women move out of their child-bearing years, they may want to reconsider who their doctor is. Rosen suggests five questions to ask yourself to determine if your doctor is still right for you:
- What is your doctor’s attitude toward aging?
- Do some of your doctor’s patients reflect your age demographic so that you know the doctor is up on the issues that you may face?
- Does your doctor practice what he/she preaches in relation to health care?
- Does your doctor take the time to answer your questions and help you become informed about your health?
- Are you still using a gynecologist as your primary doctor? If so, you may want to also consult an internist who can help you learn how to be proactive in protecting your health.
The website emedicinehealth.com has additional thoughts on making this selection. These include:
- The best time to select a doctor is when you don’t need one, so start early.
- Seek referrals from county, state or national medical societies. You can also do web-based searches at the American Board of Medical Specialties. Community hospitals may have a referral system. (I found my doctor because of the healthcare system where he practices has a referral system. And I also have a friend who has ties to a health science center, so I pick his brain for recommendations as well.)
- Choose a doctor you trust and with whom you are comfortable.
- Be sure to “interview” your doctor to make sure that your questions are answered in a way that suits you.
- Trust your gut feelings, which are normally correct.
I’d also suggest that if you are trying to find a new doctor, you consider a doctor of osteopathic medicine (D.O.), which is what my doctor is. An osteopath is a licensed physician who can practice medicine, perform surgery and prescribe medication. This type of doctor completes four years of medical school and can practice in any specialty of medicine. A D.O. also receives an additional 300-500 hours in the study of hands-on manual medicine and the body’s musculoskeletal system. An osteopathic doctor, according to MedlinePlus (which is a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health), “is dedicated to treating and healing the patient as a whole, rather than focusing on one system or body part.” Additionally, “D.O.s practice in all specialties of medicine, ranging from emergency medicine and cardiovascular surgery to psychiatry and geriatrics. A majority of osteopathic doctors use many of the medical and surgical treatments that are used by other medical doctors,” the website notes. My doctor’s focus is on family medicine and his emphasis is on adult and child general health care. Although I didn’t know what an osteopath was when I selected my doctor, I appreciate – especially as I’m aging and entering perimenopause – having his systemic viewpoint as a healthcare guide.
Published On: March 22, 2010