Personal Qualities of Your Health Care Provider
When you're choosing a health care provider to give you appropriate medical oversight and guidance, you need to consider a number of qualities. Medical or professional licensing and board certification are a must. But beyond that, what qualities matter most to you in a health care professional? Maybe up to this point, you've been very comfortable with the gruff, no-nonsense doctor who tells you, “This is what you need to do, now go do it,” and moves on. Now, however, you may want a doctor who's willing to listen to your fears, questions, and concerns, and who will encourage you to take an active role in managing your health care. Or maybe you've been perfectly content with the catch-as-catch-can variability of health care service provided by a large local clinic, but now you want to establish a strong relationship with a doctor and start getting more personalized, in-depth care, testing, and treatment. How do you decide what you need your doctor to do — or be?
Which Provider Fits You?
The first step in choosing the right health care provider for your menopause journey is to determine what kind of person you want to work with.
Ask yourself these questions:
Do you prefer to see a male or a female health care professional? You're going to need to be comfortable with this person, so you need to decide if gender plays a role in your willingness to discuss symptoms, lifestyle factors, and treatment alternatives. If you'll feel reluctant to be totally open and honest with a health care provider because of his or her gender, this may not be the time to try to break down those barriers.
Do you want a medical “boss” who will dispense advice and guidance without requesting your input regarding treatment options? Or would you prefer someone who is open to the patient-as-partner approach to health care? There's nothing wrong with expecting your health care provider to suggest specific treatment options — as long as that person is fully trained and has a complete understanding of your medical background and family history. If, on the other hand, you want to discuss and choose from a range of options, you need to be certain that your health care provider is willing to discuss those options with you and support your decision with good follow-through treatment.
Do you care about the age of your health care provider? Again, it's important that you feel comfortable so that you can openly discuss your health and lifestyle issues and will be confident in the decisions and recommendations that you're offered.
While personal qualities don't determine a health care professional's skills or training, they may influence the way you work with that person. In the end, you might choose someone who doesn't fit your optimum personality profile, but acknowledging your preferences can help you form a strong working relationship with any health care professional.
It's Your Choice
If you give some time to thinking about the sort of care provider who can help you through the menopausal transition, you will have a better chance of finding the right person. You will want someone with whom you are comfortable and who can answer your questions and provide safe, competent care. The more comfortable you are with this person, the more likely you are to discuss your symptoms and concerns. Even if he or she is not an expert in gynecology, a provider who can answer your questions and can refer you when an issue is beyond his or her expertise may be the right provider for you.