It is important we receive the right care when it comes to medical management of our pain condition. In my blog post How to Receive the Best Medical Care to Help You Manage Your Pelvic Pain I share with you how to best build your medical support network, but finding the right professional, whether it’s a Gynecologist, a Dietician or a Physiotherapist, can also be a challenge.
When you put your life in someone else’s hands, you need to feel confident that this is an individual with enough experience, qualifications, and skills to give you the care you deserve. Therefore, it’s worth investing some time in this and ‘shop around’ for a professional you feel comfortable with.
Your primary care doctor will likely make a recommendation of whom to see, which you may simply choose to accept. However, there are many professionals out there, and you may wish to do your own investigation to determine which one is best for you.
Here are a few generic tips to help you find the right people:
The first step is to make a list of potential candidates. Your support network, friends, family members, or perhaps even co-workers may know of a trusted professional. Each country should have a number of organizations and services that can provide you with a list of medical or surgical professionals from which to choose. Then you should narrow the list down, considering the following factors:
Training, experience and background. Where a professional went to medical school and did their training is good to know, particularly if you are researching a surgeon. What is the professional’s experience in endometriosis surgery, i.e. the number of weekly surgeries for endometriosis, including severe disease/removal of cysts, recurrence rates, and complications? How do they handle complications if they occur during and/or after surgery? willing to tape the operation, or take photos and keep this on record?
Personal Traits. Ask yourself what blend of experience and personality traits are important to you so that you and the professional will be a good fit. Also consider whether you would you perhaps prefer a female professional? Older doctors obviously have more experience to bring to the examining table and younger ones may be more savvy about advances and more open to new techniques, but that doesn’t readily translate to conclusions about which ones are likelier to be better doctors. That is totally your call.
Membership in medical society. Almost all professionals are members of a medical society. Doctors and professionals who have fellowship status in a medical society have demonstrated outstanding achievement in their profession in the eyes of their colleagues. Experts consider board certification one of the best indicators of competency and training.
Consumer and organization ratings. A bit like TripAdvisor, more and more doctors and professionals are being rated by consumer organizations and other groups devoted to quality healthcare. Try and find out what your local rating services are to get some feedback. Do note that, while this information can be extremely useful, it should not be the only criteria used to judge a professional, since these organizations may rely on rating systems that are not entirely accurate or fair.
Privileges and affiliates with certain hospitals. Would you prefer to be close to home, or are you open to a better hospital farther away, if that’s where your doctor has admitting privileges?
Coverage by health plans. Unless you are prepared to pay for your treatment out-of-pocket (which is not an option for most of us), consider doctors who are covered by your health plan. If you use a federal or state health insurance program, such as Medicare, be sure to ask the office staff or doctor if they are accepting patients using these programs.
The next step is decision time. When you have identified one or more professionals who meet your needs, try and make an appointment if possible, or set up an introductory phone call to go through all your questions (this is a good opportunity to find out whether they actually listen to you and answer your questions with care!). Calling the office will also give you an advantage in finding out how the office is run; spending five minutes on the phone with the receptionist will tell you how far in advance you need to make appointments, the length of a typical office visit, and whether the doctor usually sticks to the appointment schedule or is two hours behind by noon.
Lastly, when you visit your healthcare professional for the first time, bring a list of personal questions. You want to be completely comfortable with your professional, since you will be working closely with them when making decisions about your treatment.