Wednesday, January 9, 2008

How To Pick a New Doctor...

We have been keeping busy more than usual, and our router has gone wonky again, so computer time is scarce for me. Just like so many times, my mom has helped me out of a bind (although without realizing it).

Wal needs to get a grown-up doctor in the area, because he's in no position - for so many reasons - to see his out-of-state pediatrician. He's got lovely insurance which offers him a great selection - maybe too many, in fact. My mom put together the following list for me (presumably put together in the order she thought to write them down, not in order of importance), and some of the additional factors (and my comments) are at the end. Thanks, mom!

Choosing a New Doctor: Selection Criteria from a First Rate Mother*

1. Where did they go to school/ medical school?
I don't want to appear to be a snob, but I feel you have a better chance of finding an intelligent, dedicated, focused professional if they have successfully made it through a top-notch program.

2. The number of years in practice, and length of time at their current practice?
It would be nice to find someone with lots of experience, but 'young' enough to still be enthusiastic and sincerely invested in the health of each of his patients.

3. Hospital privileges.
What hospital(s) is the doctor affiliated with? If he doesn't have privileges at your hospital of choice, he can't visit/treat you while in there. [She was right on this one: It worked out well to be able to have my GP involved after my ER visit.]

4. Part of a team of doctors?
My assumption is that since the administrative costs are being shared, there is a greater likelihood that my doctor will be spending more time caring for each of his patients. I don't like the feeling in some offices that they are trying to pack in as many appointments as possible in the shortest amount of time. I also like the availability of other doctors for mine to confer with if needed.

5. Facilities available.
If his office is in a large medical center or hospital complex, it may be easier to have special tests, x-rays, etc. performed during or right after your appointment.

6. Convenient office location.

7. Availability.
Any Saturday or evening hours available? (I haven't had much luck finding Internists/ Primary care physicians with these hours. It is a royal pain to schedule time off work for every appointment.)

8. Recommendations
From other medical professionals that you respect - I also ask my friends who they recommend. If the same name comes up several times, that's someone to check out!

9. Local Rankings

My Notes:

Here are the factors I was already considering. These lists will be blended, and the phone calls (and googling!) will begin.

10. Gender
I hadn't thought about this before, except for when choosing a GYN, but I wanted to make sure Wal was comfortable with a lady doctor. He used to be shy, you know. (He is indifferent, so it won't be considered.)

11. Age
I feel more comfortable with younger doctors. It seems like you run this risk of being misunderstood - or having conflicting viewpoints - with someone two generations removed. [A friend had a doctor who insists that depression is best treated only with exercise. I treated with a different doctor.]

12. Location
There are several guys available in our zipcode, and that's pretty tempting.

13. Hours
I still completely do not understand why there are not evening hours for this. I, and everyone else with a day job, would totally love you if you just stay open until six. I would have missed so much less school (...maybe?) if doctors had convenient times available. Also, can everyone just get a website, and let me book there? I know I hated our college health services, but at least they did that. (I am trying to make an appointment with my GP right now, and I have discovered that THERE ARE ONLY FOUR HOURS A DAY I CAN CALL. Oh, and would you know it? I WORK during those hours. When the hell am I going to see her, if I can't even get anyone on the phone. Hate.)

14. Overbooking / Waiting / Taking new patients
I only have to see my GYN once a year, but it's a 4 hour ordeal to get 10 minutes of her time. Her office runs consistently 1.5 hours late. You cannot book the morning slots if you are not a new patient. It does not matter how far in advance you make the appointment. And of course, their estimates of your wait that day are always less than 50%

15. Specialty.
It kind of went without saying, but I said it anyway. We don't need any of that "Family Practice" crap.

That's all I've got so far. I'll keep the blog posted (hopefully?) on how it all goes.

*My title. hehe.


Lauren said...

oh good, you're leaving the devil woman doctor. if she had her way, i'd solve my motion sickness by riding a motorized wheelchair to work and classes. logical.

oh, and she called me fat. how sweet.

but in all seriousness, i'm curious how it goes. i did the doctor hunt last year and found someone who seemed decent based on the most basic criteria... location, age, experience. of course i still haven't seen her yet, so i'm guessing i'll have a lot more to ask...

Emily said...

Oh jeez. Out patients hate us, but it seems so much harsher coming from you. ;)

Part of the reason people go into GP is so they can have regular hours. Some people don't want to have to take overnight call all their lives. heehee.

The overbooking thing is just the beauty of the current system. In our clinic its especially frustrating because our patients are so inconsistant, but there is at least a couple of month wait to get into the general medicine clinic so they have to book as maximal as possible to ensure a good minimum of pts get seen. Unfortunately, when everybody shows up, it makes for a long frustrating day for all involved. Everybody is frustrated and handling the frustrations takes part of the appointments which delays the rest of the appointments...

At least y'all have some insurance... some of our patients wait 6-8 months to see some of the specialists.

I do give you props for enjoying the younger docs. heehee. The woman thing is so odd to me because our school is a little more than 40% female staff, but app some of the residencies have like <12% females on staff. The numbers are increasing, but still sounds like we get to live in man's world a bit longer. ;)

Lots of love.

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