Finding the right doctor: 15 traits you should look for

finding the right doctor

The process of finding my doctor was challenging both for me and my family. But now I know what to look for when working with a medic.

Reflecting on life, I’ve started realizing just how precious it is and how, in a split second, it can make a turn for the worst. One day, you can find yourself living a normal life and the next day, being diagnosed with a terrible disease.

I’ve lived my life by the books: college, marriage, kids, a satisfying career in engineering. Now, at 56, I was prepared to help my children with fulfilling their paths: my eldest daughter is getting married next year and we were in the midst of all that preparation, while my youngest is moving out of the home and starting her IT career in San Francisco.

When the news of my cancer broke out, all of these plans started to blur out. I’ve begun feeling like I was an audience member for the reality show that has become my life: my family was behaving all erratic – one minute they’re fighting with each other, the next one they’re crying and trying to be supportive. Each other day we met with another doctor that used to treat me like a case study, rather than a human being, and my symptoms aggravated mostly due to all the stress I was facing.

I’ve learned a lot from the journey of searching for the best doctor for my disease

I’ve started referring to that time as my roller coaster experience. Now, as a cancer survivor, I’ve realized that the winning combination of faith and finding a doctor that understood exactly what I was feeling and acted as a member of my family, rather than a medical doctor, helped me cope with my feelings and start getting treatment. After meeting with him, I’ve immediately begun to feel a sense of security which I thought I lost for good. We’ve had the appointment where he explained exactly what my disease was, how it manifested, what my options were, each possible side-effect and what to expect after the surgery. He was a professional, while, at the same time, he was being human: empathetic and supportive. He always says that recovery is a process as important as the treatment itself.

From the comfort of my house, I’m now feeling grateful that I had the strength of making an appointment with him (he was the 6th doctor I’ve seen). I’ve started thinking about other patients with a severe illness that are in the position of choosing the right doctor: doubting that you made the right decision, feeling like you have no other option, refusing to go through the process of meeting with another specialist. It can be daunting, but trust me: working with the right doctor is crucial for the success of the treatment. This is why I’ve compiled a list, based on the relationship with my doctor, that I hope will encourage other patients not to stop looking until they’ve met the right match. Maby you won’t be able to find a doctor that reunites all of these traits, but trust me: looking for someone that aggregates as much as these as possible is worth the waiting.

These are the 15 traits to look for in the perfect doctor:

  1. Find a doctor who is patient and thoroughly discusses your diagnosis, your options, treatment, and answers every question, however obvious the answer might be;
  2. Look for good recommendations from his patients;
  3. A dedicated doctor rearranges his schedule for your appointment, in spite of heavy patient load, if your symptoms require urgent attention;
  4. His office calls you to remind of regular check-ups and insists that you make it to your appointment;
  5. He provides you with as much treatment options as possible, not only the ones that he is most comfortable with;
  6. He is sincere and transparent and isn’t afraid to talk about complications, in a reassuring manner;
  7. He is friendly, jokes with you at times and speaks in a familiar tone, making it easy for you to understand all of the implications.
  8. Even on a day off, he can gather the surgical team upon short notice and open the surgical room. This was my case, as I had a vacation planned on Monday and, on the Friday before that, he noticed an issue with my bladder that required immediate surgical attention;
  9. Money is not the top incentive when treating his patients. Moreover, he makes sacrifices for patients whose insurances are on a normal fee;
  10. The good doctor surrounds himself with an excellent team that is caring, patient and empathetic towards the patient and the family;
  11. He goes out of his way to ensure that the surgery side effects are as minimal as possible;
  12. In case of hospitalization, he must facilitate you being near your family and getting support;
  13. A concerned doctor conducts regular check-ups when you’re admitted to the hospital and talks to you and your family;
  14. He receives public recognition for his contribution to the medical industry;
  15. He treats your family with respect and consideration, keeping them up-to-date with your progress during surgery.