Since I live in Boise, Idaho and my oncologist is in Los Angeles, California and I am living with a chronic cancer that seems to have ever increasing side effects from my treatment, I have decided that I should put my big girl panties on and form a relationship with a local physician; just in case.
Now, shopping for a physician is not something I enjoy; as a matter of fact, I actually hate it! I am extremely particular when it comes to my health and my expectations of the person that I entrust my life to, are extremely high; not many that I have met fit the bill and searching to find the right fit is often like finding the needle, in the haystack.
So, where does one begin? For me, I usually seek out the advice of another physician, or a nurse. Nurses in particular know “how” doctors treat their patients; doctors know “who” to trust with their life. Once I have done some homework, I make some calls; I talk to the office staff. Evaluating the office staff is really important as these are the people that you will deal with, prior to getting to your physician; they make your appointments, often assess your “need” and also schedule follow up visits and tests that are ordered; you may also be at their mercy when it comes to receiving the results of ordered tests. You had better like the office staff!
Next comes the really crucial part of forming a long term relationship; the physician. How does he/she make you feel? Does he/she ask questions and listen to your answers? Does he/she appear to take an honest interest in you and your health? Do you communicate well with each other? Do you feel rushed or unimportant? Does he/she seem knowledgeable? And most importantly, would you trust this person with your life, and would you feel comfortable knowing that this person had your life in their hands? There are many things that come into play when choosing a physician and these are just some of the guidelines that I use.
I also decided that I would choose an Internal Medicine Physician as opposed to a Family Practitioner as an internist deals with the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of adult diseases. ACP; American College of Physicians offers this information:
Caring for the Whole Patient
Internists are equipped to deal with whatever problem a patient brings -- no matter how common or rare, or how simple or complex. They are specially trained to solve puzzling diagnostic problems and can handle severe chronic illnesses and situations where several different illnesses may strike at the same time. They also bring to patients an understanding of wellness (disease prevention and the promotion of health), women's health, substance abuse, mental health, as well as effective treatment of common problems of the eyes, ears, skin, nervous system and reproductive organs.
Caring for You for Life
In today's complex medical environment, internists take pride in caring for their patients for life -- in the office or clinic, during hospitalization and intensive care, and in nursing homes. When other medical specialists, such as surgeons or obstetricians, are involved, they coordinate their patient's care and manage difficult medical problems associated with that care.
You can also go one step further and check their credentials; many places also have a rating system available online.
This being said, do you think that I have found my perfect match?