We all look for certain qualities and characteristics when we choose a mate or a friend and the same should be true for doctors. For those of us who have to deal with doctors on a regular basis, it is crucial to find one that works with your personality type. As you all could probably assume, I have come across my fair share of doctors and consider myself a bit of an expert about what type of doctor I like and what personality traits I can’t deal with.
My surgeon has become my primary doctor for the past ten years because all of my issues were surgical. After a while, I started looking at him as a surrogate father to me in the medical world. This man, Dr. Stephen Gorfine, became one of the only doctors I trusted. As the number of hospital stays I had to endure increased, I became more intolerant of random doctors barging in my room asking me to lift my shirt up so they could look at my incision. I was treated at Mt. Sinai Hospital in NYC which is a teaching hospital so there are so many residents there. Whenever I was in the hospital during the month of August, that was when all of the recent medical school graduates graced me with their presence. In the beginning, I allowed them to do whatever they wanted to because I tried to be a good patient and I knew they needed to learn. However, as I spent more time there and began to see how far too many doctors have no bedside manner, I began only allowing Dr. Gorfine to put his hands on me. He has two partners, one of which I could never handle because our personalities are much too different. I ask a lot of questions, I need to know what is going on with my body, and I needed and began demanding to be treated like a human being. I have zero tolerance for anyone in the medical field who wasn’t respectful and who was just doing the exact same thing other doctors had done for the sake of writing it down. I was always weary of Dr. Gorfine’s partners and only wanted him to be involved in my care which for the most part, was the case.
There was one week when I was in the hospital for a blockage and was scheduled to have surgery the following day since having an obstruction/blockage in your intestines for more than five days becomes very dangerous. However, the morning before I was supposed to go in for another surgery, Dr. Gorfine’s other partner came in to see me. I had never met him before or even heard anything about him but the way he approached me was so kind and considerate. He asked me before he did anything and I could just tell right then and there that this was a person and doctor who I could trust. So, I allowed him to play around with the tube that was in my stomach. He ended up saving me from needing another surgery. After the 20th person did the exact same thing, I drew the line and only would allow my doctor to deal with it. I have so much to say about hospitals and hospital protocols but I will save it for another time.
My original point of this post was to share with you all that while asking other patients their opinion on a specific doctor or looking up reviews about the provider online is great because it can definitely be beneficial, it is also not always wise since we all need different things from the person who is taking care of us. I have found it confusing at times. I always like to form my own opinions about people and doctors. I was told positive things about Dr. Gorfine and they happened to be true. I was also told positive things about my pediatric gastroenterologist who after I presented her with evidence of a misdiagnosis said “huh” and walked out of my hospital room never to be heard from again.
So, my advice to all of you who need to maintain a relationship with a doctor for whatever reason, would be to find the doctor that you feel will best suite your needs. It doesn’t matter what other people think, or what some people have said online. It only matters what you think and how you feel when you are talking to that person. Do you trust them? Do they treat you with respect and not like just one of a thousand patients? Do they listen? Can you ask them questions without them getting annoyed? There are so many questions and the ones I have mentioned are just some examples of important questions I always liked to ask myself before making a decision about my medical care.
A doctor that treats you like an equal, so that you are working as a team to make your health more manageable is crucial in my opinion. Use your best judgment and go with your gut on this. And always remember, there is no shortage of doctors so if you don’t like something about the doctor you are with and it is affecting your health (physically or mentally), don’t be afraid to make a switch. You can always go back to your original doctor anytime.