You are still in the running to become…

AMERICA’S.          NEXT.           TOP.               GI!    

We all know that a good doctor is hard to find. It seems absurd to me that there are so few of us who are happy with the care we are receiving. It seems even more absurd that we stick around and keep these doctors that we are unhappy with.

Having a good gastrointerologist is so important if you have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.  These are the people we are going to form (we hope) a partnership with in treating our disease. Here’s the thing: Doctors work for YOU! If you do not feel like you are getting the best care possible, don’t feel that you are stuck with that doctor. Unless you live in an area where your options are limited, you CAN find a new doctor if you are unhappy with your current one. When you are looking for a doctor pretend they are auditioning for you. 

Here are a few things to look for:

Is the doctor available? Do you have to go on a wild goose chase to contact your doctor? Is it hard to reach them and do they respond in a timely manner? Though doctors are very busy people it’s important that they get back to you or at least have someone else get back to you when you need help. When you see them do you feel too rushed and like they are ready to run out the door because they are waiting to get to the next patient, or do you feel like you have their full attention? 

How does the doctor talk to you? Bedside manner is very important. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from friends or followers that their doctor said something that was so uncaring or insulting that they didn’t even go back to the doctor for a long time which only made their IBD worse. It is very important you have a good doctor, but also a doctor that speaks to you in a kind way. Patients are more likely to open up to a doctor they trust and less likely to talk if they don’t feel like their doctor cares for them.  

Does your doctor listen to you? Does your doctor seem so busy that he isn’t listening to you because he needs to go and see his next patient? This is important because we may hold back information about our health if we feel like our doctor does not want to listen to us or isn’t available. Do you feel like your input matters? Is the conversation back-and-forth, or is it just your doctor making all the decisions while you nod your head? 

Does the doctor use social media? To me this is a bonus. Does that mean I want to be friends on facebook and tweet my doctor all the time? No. But I do enjoy the doctors I see out there using social media. It shows that they are involved and that they care about what they are doing and the people they treat. Probably a good sign that they have great bedside manner. If a doctor emails it’s a big bonus to me. Love that! 

Do they know what they are doing? Of course this is very important too. What kind of background do they have? Where did they study? Are they working for a good hospital? Do they have any awards or other achievements that stand out?  

Do they follow through on your treatment plan? Are you clueless about your treatment plan or well informed? Do you know exactly why you are receiving the care and medication you are getting? Do you have regular check-ups or do you wonder when your next appointment should be?  It’s important that a doctor works for you. You should be aware of your treatment plan and your doctor should make things as easy as possible for you. It is also important that they explain things to you in a way that you can understand. 

Does your doctor listen to your suggestions? Does he or she consider treatments that you’ve read about or tell you it’s BS? A lot of doctors don’t like it when you are an “empowered patient”. It’s important to have a doctor who listens to you and that you come up with a plan that you are both comfortable with. 

Does the doctor only treat one aspect of the disease? I have come to find that doctors of IBD only focus on the gut. What about diet, mental health, other areas the disease affects, finding support, etc? One of my former doctors told me to stay away from online support sites instead of offering up good ones. Everyone needs support and it would be great to see a doctor more involved in all areas of health. 

If you can find all of this in a doctor hold onto them! It seems like when I find one thing in a doctor they are lacking in another. For a long time I would just settle and I know in the past my Crohn’s disease could have been managed much better if I had a better doctor. 

How about you guys? Did you audition your doctor? Are you assertive when it comes to your care? Do you have a doctor you love?