We all know it's essential to work with a knowledgeable and, ideally, friendly dermatologist - someone who not only understands our specific health issues and concerns but also is someone who has good bedside manner. I count myself lucky to have found a dermatologist who is this kind of individual, but it took some time to locate him. Whether you've recently moved to a new area and need to find a skin specialist, or you've decided it's time to work with a different dermatologist, consider the following tips to ensure a strong patient-doctor relationship:
• Do your homework. Ask around for a referral - from friends, family members and your primary physician - but don't stop there. Also check with your local hospital or community health center, which may provide information on their website or through their own referral service about dermatologists practicing in your area. From there, go to the American Academy of Dermatology's website to learn more about your local dermatologists. The site features a ‘Find a Dermatologist' database . Knowing your dermatologist is a member of the AAD is important because this means he or she is committed to staying on top of the latest training available and is aware of current research in this field of medicine. Also important: learning the health insurance (if any) a dermatologist accepts.
• Know your dermatologist's specialty (if he or she has one). Dermatologists care for numerous types of skin, hair and nail problems in women, men and children. These range from cosmetic problems like acne and wrinkles, to more dangerous conditions, such as skin infections and skin cancer. And within dermatology, a variety of sub-specialties exist, including pediatric dermatology, cosmetic dermatology and immunodermatology. As someone with psoriasis, a chronic health condition, you'll want to know if a dermatologist works with many patients like yourself or whether their practice caters to more "cosmetic" treatments. Certainly there's going to be some of the latter in any dermatology practice, but from what I've heard from speaking with many psoriasis patients over the years, it's especially helpful to them when their dermatologist has less of a focus on cosmetic treatments and more of one on treating chronic illnesses such as psoriasis.
• Follow your gut feelings. A dermatologist may sound great on paper, and may even have glowing reviews from patients, but YOU need to feel good about working with this individual. So if after that first consultation - or even after several months or years - you're not feeling the two of you gel as patient and doctor, don't be afraid to look for someone else. I chose this route after coming to the realization that my former dermatologist didn't appear to be hearing my concerns during a particularly bad flare. I knew the relationship didn't feel right, but it wasn't until I found my current doctor that I discovered just how off-the-mark my previous doctor-patient relationship had been. I've now been seeing my current dermatologist for about five years. Throughout that time he's helped me manage two major psoriasis flares with a variety of different treatments. Most importantly, he's done so with expert knowledge, humor and compassion. Which is exactly how it should be for each of us.
Published On: June 23, 2011