I have been thinking about this topic for quite some time. Not only have I recently had clients question their choice in doctors, I have been thinking about how lucky I am to have the team of doctors I do. I quite literally owe my life to my colorectal surgeon and his team as well as my gastroenterologist. I have complete trust in them and know they have my best interest at heart. That is very comforting.
When you are living with a chronic illness or chronic pain, choosing the right doctor can make all the difference in your treatment. So, with all of the doctors out there, how can you be sure you have chosen the right one for you? Here are some tips:
Do your homework: If you are searching for a doctor, make sure you do your research! Check out healthgrades.com, vitals.com, and other sites where patients can post reviews. Also, don't be afraid to make an appointment to interview potential new doctors. Ask the doctor any and all questions you need answers to in order to make a decision about who would be the best fit for you. If they value you as a potential new patient, they will take the five or ten minutes necessary to answer your questions.
Choose a doctor who specializes in your condition: If you have gastrointestinal issues, choose a gastroenterologist. If you have chronic pain, choose a doctor who specializes in pain management. You get the idea. I cannot express how important it is to have a doctor who specializes in the specific illness you are struggling with. General practitioners can be great for common colds, flu's and that sort of thing, but when you are dealing with something specific, such as Crohn's Disease, arthritis, chronic pain, etc. you need a doctor who knows everything possible about your condition.
Trust your instincts: If you have been seeing a doctor you are not happy or comfortable with, find another doctor! I know this sounds like common sense but I can't tell you how many clients I have seen who have stayed with a doctor they are unhappy with. To some degree I understand. Doctors are seen as authority figures so sometimes we question our own instincts when we feel uncomfortable with a doctor. We think it must be something within ourselves, not something with the doctor. Please know that if you feel that something isn't right or you are not getting the treatment you deserve or need, you are probably correct. Trust your instincts. Your health and happiness are on the line.
If you aren't sure, get a second opinion: If you have received a diagnosis you are unsure of or your doctor is recommending a procedure or surgery you are not sure you need, get a second opinion. The worst that is going to happen is that the second doctor will agree with your doctor. At least you will then have the peace of mind you need to move forward.
Ask your peers: If you are looking for a doctor, don't hesitate to ask people you know for a recommendation. You can also research Facebook groups or other online forums dedicated to people with your illness and ask individuals there for recommendations. Hearing the good, the bad, and the ugly from actual patients can be the best way to find a new doctor.