Liza Colimon MD

Advocate for Yourself... Four signs you know you've found the Right Doctor

1. Pay attention to that "gut feeling." If you feel at peace then you're likely on the right track.

It may seem cliché but your body's reaction says much about the chemistry you have with your Doctor. Does she make you feel safe, understood, at ease, comfortable? If not then perhaps you are finding yourself on the wrong examining table. The Patient- Doctor Relationship is one of the most intimate relationships you will ever have. The relationship does not develop overnight but you will have an overall feel about your physician. If you're having a tug in the bottom of your stomach that makes you feel uneasy, don't ignore it.. Explore why you are feeling that way and don't be afraid to change providers, offices and even hospitals if need be. If you know you have difficulty with you intuition about health care providers, bring a trusted family member along who knows you well.

On another note, be sure to be honest with yourself about the beliefs and expectations you are bringing to the table at your visit. For example, if you haven't scheduled a visit in quite some time and have many issues and complaints, realize it takes time to address health care concerns. Often times this means you may have to schedule multiple visits.

2. Your physician welcomes questions.

Truth be told, medical language is very difficult to understand. So don't feel guilty if you have questions. In fact you should. I'm am often surprised during a visit when I ask a patient if she has any questions and she says "No." Either I've done an excellent job explaining, or she is overwhelmed, nervous, or afraid. I typically ask several times during the visit if I can help clarify anything and I welcome questions. I even encourage patients to call back with questions.

3. Your concerns are addressed.

After a Doctor's visit, you should feel at minimum understood. You may not leave with your diagnosis or all the answers you were hoping for, but you should feel like some progress has been made toward your betterment. This includes feeling like you Doctor was actively listening to what you had to say.

However be realistic... and know yourself.

4. Your phone calls are returned.

This may seem like a simple concept but think again. If you leave messages for your physician or their staff, your call should be returned in a timely manner, typically within 24 hours. If you struggle with getting through to your physician or with getting your calls returned this is not a promising sign. Now realize during the average work day, your physician is likely caring for patients. It is important to keep realistic expectations about when your call will be returned. Also expect a qualified nurse or medical assistant may call to address your concerns first. Most calls and questions can be answered and problems by Nurses and Medical Assistants with your Doctor's guidance. Just because you don't physically speak to your Doctor on the phone doesn't mean they are not aware of your call. Physicians typically work very closely with their staff in returning phone calls and with problem solving during busy office sessions where they are expected to see patients.