Choosing the Right OB/GYN
When making a big purchase like a new car or house, you put a lot of research into finding just the right one. Well, when it comes to your health, it's important to put that same effort into finding the right OB/GYN. To guide your search, consider both your rapport with the doctor as well as the doctor's experience and knowledge.
What does an OB/GYN know?
A four-year residency prepares an OB/GYN to see women through pregnancy, birth and menopause. An OB/GYN also can perform surgery on the reproductive organs. An OB/GYN is schooled in yearly preventive healthcare, such as cancer screenings, exercise counseling, and immunizations.
After residency, an OB/GYN may become certified. Board certification requires passing rigorous written and oral tests. Certification also must be maintained with more testing every few years.
You can assume that a board-certified OB/GYN has the up-to-date skills, knowledge and experience to treat many different conditions of women's health. By the same token, a lack of board certification should be questioned.
Narrowing your choices
A good place to start when choosing an OB/GYN is to find out what your family, friends and coworkers like about the healthcare providers they see. You should call the offices of two or three doctors who interest you. The staff can tell you about the doctor's education, training and board certification, as well as provide information about insurance plans, lab procedures and hospital affiliation.
Questions for your potential OB/GYN
Before visiting a doctor, gather all your prescriptions and write down any questions you may have. Here are a few to get you started:
Choosing your OB/GYN is a personal choice, and nothing will substitute for a face-to-face meeting. You will find that comfort and rapport are just as important as your healthcare provider's experience or knowledge. A doctor needs to be privy to all of your health issues — even ones that are sensitive in nature. If you don't feel like you can talk about all of your health concerns, you may need to find another doctor.
- What kind of preventive healthcare do you recommend?
- How would you care for someone who has my health issues?
- Who cares for your patients when you are on vacation?
Published Spring/Summer 2008, Southwest Woman