Some people think that if you’re healthy, any doctor will do. Right? If you have a chronic lung disease like COPD, you’ll want to find that perfect doctor: one who knows your disease right-side up and inside out, and who works well with you as part of the doctor/patient team. You don’t just want any doctor, you want a GREAT doctor.
Here are six steps to finding a great doctor.
(Note: If you already have a doctor, you can skip to step 4 to see if your doctor qualifies as great).
Find out what doctors are accepting patients. You can probably just call the main line of any hospital and talk to whomever answers the phone. Most hospitals have access to a list of doctors who are currently accepting patients. This should give you a place to start.
Talk to your friends and relatives. When I moved to Ludington, I was in need of a good asthma doctor. I talked to my friends and that’s how I met a great doctor. Talking to friends is even easier today, because today we have social networks like Facebook. You can just send out an update saying something like, “Hey, I am looking for a GREAT doctor. Any recommendations?” You will be surprised at the responses you get. If any of the doctors recommended match those names on your list, you are good to go.
Choose a doctor’s office and make an appointment. Once you limit your list down to two or three, it’s time to make some calls. Someone is going to answer the phone, and the tone of this person’s voice can tell you a lot about the milieu of the office. You’re hoping for someone who is friendly, pleasant, and easy to talk to. You’re also looking for someone who will work their magic to fit you into the doctor’s busy schedule.
Note how quickly you get to see the doctor. You can’t necessarily judge the doctor based on how fast you get to see him/her. However, this can tell you about the doctor’s office staff/doctor as a whole. Sometimes, the best doctors have the longest waiting lists, as half the town waits to be seen. However, a great doctor with a great office staff will observe the urgency of your call and make sure you are seen in a timely manner. For instance, if you’re doing the right thing by calling as soon as you observe your early warning signs of COPD, you should be seen right now as opposed to two days from now.
Note if the doctor satisfies your needs and desires? Here you have some leeway. For instance, I cannot stand a doctor who is overly aggressive and who orders a bunch of tests. I want a doctor I can chum with, maybe even one I could easily have a beer with. That’s just me. I actually fired a doctor once because he was overly blunt and made me feel like a stupid kid. Some people prefer a more aggressive doctor, and would rather have too many tests than not enough. Bottom line: Are you satisfied with the doctoring style of your doctor?
Note if you are able to form a doctor/patient team with this doctor? If so, then you might have found a great doctor. He/she must be someone who is knowledgeable in the area of your greatest needs (COPD in your case, asthma in my case), while at the same time be pleasant in demeanor and approach. He/she must also listen to your story, and be open minded to any suggestions you might have. For instance, I am a respiratory therapist, so I often have ideas for managing my own care. Sometimes my doctor agrees with me, and other times he doesn’t. In either instance, at least he allows me the opportunity to share ideas with him. The bottom line is that you are able to work with this doctor to obtain ideal control of your COPD.
These are just some simple tips I’ve learned over the years from my own personal experience as a chronic lung patient and by talking to some of my friends. If you have any ideas you’d like to share, please do so in the comments below.