Posts tagged ‘good doctor’

The Office

Having a good experience at the doctor’s office isn’t just about choosing a good physician. For better or for worse, a doctor’s office itself, as well as his or her staff can contribute significantly to the care you receive. As such, they are often seen as a reflection on the doctor himself.

Most doctors take pride in keeping an office that’s clean and efficient. It’s a good sign when your doctor is conscientious about the environment in which you receive care. While Persian rugs and Ming vases make for an impressive waiting room, it’s more important that an examing room be well lit, clean, and stocked with essential tools.

Blood drawing is usually available in the office. Some doctors have access to bedside ultrasound or obstetric monitoring. You may ask whether these are accessible or are performed off-site. If services are off-site, check if they take your insurance in order to avoid a surprise bill.

The most important tool in the physician’s arsenal is his or her staff. Receptionists are responsible for keeping the office moving. They are the gatekeepers to your care, handling the often difficult task of finding convenient appointment times, arranging off-site testing, rescheduling missed visits, and contacting the doctors in-between patients in cases of emergency. They help keep the doctors running on time by avoiding disturbances to the doctors’ schedule (thereby minimizing your wait time – a big plus!).

Receptionists should be polite, helpful, well-organized, and efficient. In return, they should be treated with respect and patience. If you find that access to your doctor is limited by poor service at the reception desk, you should share these concerns with your doctor. He or she has a definite interest in making sure your needs are met and may have ways of facilitating optimal service.

Medical assistants, phlebotomists and other office staff are also key to providing good care. They should be polite, attentive, and accurate in performing their assigned tasks. It’s often frustrating when you find that somebody has difficulty drawing your blood or takes your blood pressure with a cuff you feel was too tight. It’s important to discuss concerns about their service with your doctor, as he or she relies on the quality of their work in interpreting your results.

That being said, going to the doctor is never going to be fun. When you’re a patient, you may be nervous about your health, pressed for time to return to work, or caring for little ones in a waiting room that’s designed for adults. Let the staff know when you’re struggling with something so that they can do everything possible to make you more comfortable.

If you give (hopefully positive!) feedback about the office to your doctor, you’ll be doing both of you a favor.

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September 23, 2010 at 10:47 pm 1 comment

How do I find a good gynecologist?

I always ask new patients, “How did you find me?”  The answers I get are fascinating.  Some patients see me because their friend is my patient and they were told I am a good doctor.  Others are referred to me by their primary care providers or other specialists.  Some patients picked my name out of a register of providers in their insurance network.  Still others found me on the internet.

It all seems so random.  There are so many doctors out there and so many ways to pick from among them.  But (besides getting a recommendation from a doctor, friend, or family member you trust) what’s the best way to pick a doctor?  And once you’ve selected one, how can you check-up on the person who does your check-ups? 

The importance of finding a good gynecologist can't be understated!

There are certain things I look for when choosing a doctor.  For one thing, I’d like somebody who takes my health insurance.  If you don’t have coverage for out-of-network providers, it can be a burden to pay “out-of-pocket” for health services.  (It may be worth paying extra to see a doctor with special training or qualifications, but that depends on your healthcare needs and your ability to cover the cost.)

The website for your health insurance company probably lists covered providers in a database that can be searched by specialty and location.  Always call the doctor’s office to find out whether a provider is in your network (or will accept your out-of-network benefits).  Online lists may be out of date and include providers who are no longer in network and may not include providers who have joined more recently.

If you don’t have health insurance, you can call a doctor’s office to inquire about his or her fees before the visit.  Also ask about additional fees for lab work or pathology (which can be important if you are having testing for sexually transmitted diseases, are having a Pap smear, or need a biopsy).  Otherwise you may be surprised by the amount you are charged at check-out or by mail a few weeks later.

Once you have selected a few possible providers, you’ll want to find out a little more information about them.  Many providers have a website for their practice or have a bio posted on a hospital website.  This information may help you learn where the doctor went to college and medical school.  You can also find out where he or she completed residency (and in which specialty), and where any fellowship or advanced training took place. 

The government is also checking up on your doctor.  This is done through a process through which physicians must apply for and maintain a license to practice medicine in a given state.  Physicians submit information to the state medical board who evaluate the adequacy of a physician’s training.  They also seek to know whether a physician has been convicted of a crime, and whether he or she is fit (physically, mentally) to practice. 

Most physicians will make their state license readily available, often displaying it in their office.  The medical board of most states also offer a site online where you can look up a physician by name.  The American Medical Association has a site where you can find a link to your state medical board. Physicians can (and often do) hold licenses in multiple states.

Whatever you do, make sure your doctor makes you comfortable at the time of your visit.  A positive relationship with your doctor is key to making good health decisions!

September 7, 2010 at 11:51 pm 26 comments


Linda M. Nicoll, MD

Welcome to my blog! Here you will find information about minimally invasive gynecologic surgery as well as some more general information about common gynecologic disorders such as endometriosis, ovarian cysts, fibroids, infertility, and pelvic pain.

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