OBG(why)N: How to Choose the Right Ob/Gyn For You
In some parts of the country, we pronounce it O-B GIN and in others O-B-GINE (rhymes with wine). Either way, this is one doctor who you are going to have a long and intimate relationship with so you should do a little homework before making your selection.
Up until the rise of social media, very few doctors advertised unless they had a really unique practice.
Nowadays, most practices will have a website which will give you basic information including pictures, bios and general office information, but still not enough information for you to make a trusted decision.
Like with so many things, a very good place to start is to ask your friends. Many times, there will be a handful of docs in a geographic location who are very popular. Word of mouth is the best form of advertisement and friends do great vetting.
Regardless of how you find your doctor, there are some very basic questions which most people ask right away:
- What Insurance do you take?
- Where is the practice located?
- What hospital are you affiliated with?
- Will I see one doctor specifically or will I see all of the doctors within the practice?
When we talk about insurance, this is usually an important factor unless you have some extra cash on hand. An office visit usually costs around $250 here on the East Coast and that doesn’t include any labwork or additional procedures, so if you can find a good doctor within your plan, I am sure you can figure out how to spend the money you will save. Also, if you are already paying a high premium for your insurance, why not get the most out of it?
Location can be important if you are pregnant or seeking care for a serious condition like infertility. Both of these conditions require many short visits and convenience is key. Something to consider is whether you prefer to be close to home, close to work or somewhere in between. If you are just seeking routine care, once or twice a year, you may be willing to travel a bit out of your way to see a doctor that you like.
Hospital affiliations are also important if you are pregnant or think you may need surgery. All doctors maintain at least one hospital affiliation in case a patient needs to get hospitalized for some reason. If you live in a metropolitan area, there may be many hospitals to choose from whereas if you live in a rural area, there may only be one hospital covering a large geographic area.
When you become a patient of a group practice or you are in a gyn only practice, you will generally have one main physician that you see, but you may see the other doctors in the practice or a nurse practiioner for an emergency visit. Generally speaking, when you are pregnant, you will see all of the doctors in a group practice. Doctors who are in an obstetrical practice take turns being “on-call” for deliveries and so meeting everyone in the group will ensure that you are not delivered by a stranger.
Truthfully, the most important question cannot be answered until you actually meet the doctor: Do you like the doctor you have chosen?
Doctors, like patients, have different personalities. There are some doctors who are quite formal and others who are laid back. Others who are somewhere in between. As long as someone is knowledgeable and skilled, all of these types are OK and are simply a matter of preference. Some patients may be anxious, and prefer someone who simply tells them what to do, while other patients prefer to be more involved in their own care.
For many women, their relationship with their ob/gyn can span decades. As physicians, we are often present and involved in many aspects of life from birth to death and everything in between. It is an important job and shouldn’t be trusted to just anybody. There are many things to consider and some of these things may be more or less important to you at different times in your life. It is OK to see a few different doctors until you find the right fit.
Like any other relationship, this one should feel comfortable, be positive and add value to your life. There are plenty of great doctors out there, so do your homework and make the choice that is right for you!