Once I determined that having a specialist would allow me the courage to move forward in my efforts to overcome infertility, my search began. I had gathered references from trusted friends, determined who would fit into my insurance plan, and made cold calls to physicians’ offices requesting initial consultation interviews.
Needless to say, some of the doctors I interviewed gave me a few strange glances. From my self-reported history, they made the correct assumption that I was over cautious and, perhaps, needed to relax just a bit. Regardless of their responses to me, my search for just the right practitioner turned out to be prudent, not only because of my reproductive problems but also because of what I learned from the process.
I learned the difference between an OB/Gyn who calls herself an “infertility specialist” and one who is a bona fide Reproductive Endocrinologist. Most important, I learned (rather, it occurred to me) that there are some individuals who choose the profession of medicine without taking the time to learn good communication skills. I recently joked that I have decided the best doctor for me is the one who thinks the most like me. The statement was lighthearted, but I am quite serious about the concept.
Granted, I may have been more uptight than many during my initial search, but I knew that mutual respect with my specialist was a requirement for my comfort. Patronizing tones or over-casual attitudes would not cut it with me. Expertise and years of experience were important, but so was the doctor’s ability to look me in the eye and actually hear what I was saying.
After years of interviewing patients and clients in my field of social work, I have learned to pick up a lot from a little conversation. It may take others more than one interview to feel decidedly comfortable. Go ahead and schedule those interviews. Be prepared to pay the full office visit fee (in my case, that varied from $35 to $75), if your insurance thinks your search is superfluous.
Find out what the doctors’ credentials are — generally, they have a wall full of plaques in their office (which you should be invited into, by the way).
Consider your family of origin and your own health history. If any disease exists that may impact conception or pregnancy, you should ask your potential doctors about their level of experience with it.
Finally, and of equal importance, check out the general atmosphere of the office or clinic, and try to ascertain the staff’s general attitude. Do they seem to work pleasantly together, or is there an air of disgruntlement about the place? Is the reception staff rude (you’ll be “bothering” them a lot)? These kinds of intuitive assessments can give you an idea of how the “top dog” (i.e., the doctor) communicates, responds to others’ needs, and manages situations.
If you can, have Doctor B waiting in the wings, just in case Doctor A becomes Mr. Hyde after the courting period.
Know your rights and responsibilities as a patient, regardless of where you are treated.
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