George Carlin said it best, “Isn’t it a bit unnerving that doctors call what they do “practice”?”
I’m not here to bash the medical industry, or to point out what a study found several years ago, that pharmaceutical companies spend more money on marketing than on research and from my many contacts and friends in the medical field. Nor will I point out that as soon as we saw the commercials for the magic pills that cure everything from being too inactive to being too active many people started shopping doctors, looking for the ones with the loosest scripts.
What I would like to talk about is finding the healthcare that’s right for you, whether it’s just you, your parents or your kids. You need to have a level of comfort with your doctor. It’s your body (still right? that didn’t change overnight did it?), you know how much time/effort you or whomever the patient is able/willing to invest, and there are options.
This is what I mean. Prior to becoming pregnant, I did my annual physical, y ya! Thankfully there wasn’t more to it, so practically anyone could handle that. And I hated doctors. Actually feared them a bit. Then… I became pregnant and was forced to find a doctor with whom I was going to have a relationship with. For those of you who haven’t had a baybe, it’s an intimate process. Plus, for your first pregnancy you have a lot of questions and occasionally those questions, feelings or concerns could sound a little… crazy, so you need an OBGYN that will answer your crazy questions without letting on that he or she is secretly laughing a bit and thinking, “oh those silly 1st timers”. In my case, I wanted my OBGYN to deliver my babies, versus going to a practice where you are shuffled around from doctor to doctor. Apparently this is hard to come by, but I persevered. I asked other moms, my regular doctor, other doctors until I found “the one”. Really, he’s great. Delivered both babies and even noticed my pedi during delivery 😉
Same with pediatricians. While still pregnant I started interviewing other parents and my OBGYN for suggestions. Then I made an appointment with the pediatrician’s office. Many pediatrician’s offices are accustomed to this, and you really should meet them because when you baby is born or sick, is not the right time to find out you picked a quack – and believe me, they’re out there. Here are some questions I asked which you may want to consider:
- Is the pediatrician you’re going to see covered by your insurance? Sometimes the practice is, but not certain all doctors in the practice. I know, odd, but true.
- Do they have before/after work appointment times? What about weekends?
- Is there a charge to page the doctor on call? First time parents, this means that at 1am, when your baby is doing something unfamiliar and you’re not sure whether or not you should freak out you can get in touch with your pediatrician or someone from there to give you advice before you haul yourself to the ER for no reason.
- Make sure the pediatrician’s beliefs are something that you are comfortable with on topics like antibiotics and vaccines. Yes, there are standard practices, but trust me, some doctors are waaay more liberal with medicines than others and there are some doctors that agree with spacing out vaccines more than others.
- What about sick visits? You wake up on Monday morning and your child is sick, can you get a same day appointment?
You want to be sure that you have chosen doctors whose decision you are comfortable with. And no matter what don’t ever hesitate to get a 2nd opinion. Be it for yourself, your children. It’s your right and well-being we’re talking about here. Get informed, ask questions and if something doesn’t sound right, get a second opinion! Doctor’s can be a great ally, but remember, they are people too. They are not infallible and as one doctor put it, once your out of medical school, it’s hard to stay updated on everything. And many doctors still don’t prescribe to holistic treatments or CAM‘s, so shop around, the right doctor is out there for you!