Welcome to Doctors’ Notes, our newest contribution from Urban Health correspondents and husband and wife physicians Dr. Rob and Dr. Karla Robinson. The dynamic duo will be fielding questions about health, as it relates to African Americans. Please feel free to send them questions via firstname.lastname@example.org. We promise to keep it anonymous.
Let’s face it. Many of us avoid going to visit the doctor’s office at all costs. We think, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Or “If it’s almost broke, I’ll just hold off.” Or “If it is broke, I’m going to the emergency room.” And ultimately, we find ourselves never taking the time to establish a relationship with a primary care doctor. But finding a doctor that you can trust is key to maintaining your health.
Your doctor is likely the only other person, besides select friends and family who knows most things about you. So it’s best to find someone you can relate to and feel comfortable talking to. You’ll need to find a doctor armed with more than just the ability to write a prescription, but someone who has your best interest at heart.
Searching for the right healthcare provider can feel overwhelming. It often takes time and requires a level of patience. So in an effort to ease the anxiety, we’ve developed a cheat sheet of the top 5 things you should look for in your doctor’s office.
#1 Degree on the wall: Make sure you can see the credentials of your provider. You’ll need to know that this person is licensed and/or certified to do just what they say they can do. To maintain an active license, it requires a certain amount of ongoing education. This is just one extra layer of protection for you that your doctor is keeping abreast of the latest medical advancements.
#2 Washing their hands: This should be done every time the doctor or his/her staff enters the room and before and after examining you. Just think how many germs can be passed with each patient encounter if the staff fails to properly sanitize. If they don’t remember to wash with soap or get a handful of sanitizer, don’t be afraid to speak up.
#3 Friendly office staff: Often underrated, observing the office staff is key to having a good healthcare experience. After all, this is who you are going to interact with much more often than the doctor. When you need a referral, or a form filled out, or to make an appointment, the staff is who you’ll rely on. Any good physician knows that his or her office staff can make or break his clinic.
#4 Doctor’s chair/stool in the exam room: If there is no place for the doctor to make him/herself at home, you can best believe that your wait time in the lobby is going to be much longer than your visit time with the doctor. A good doctor is going to take the time to address the issue that brought you there and will make you feel like you were worth his or her time. That often starts with just taking a seat.
#5 A doctor invested in their own health: A doctor committed to living their best and healthiest life will certainly be ready to help you take on the task. If a doctor is leading the lifestyle they are telling you to lead, they will have more tools in their arsenal to help you succeed. This will likely be evidenced by health literature and health magazines in the office, water readily available, and healthy snacks. The office where your doctor is smoking outside when you pull into the lot, is probably not the one where you’d want to entrust your care.
It’s a health thing…we’ve got to understand!
About the Doctors:
Dr. Karla and Dr. Rob are the founders of Urban Housecall, a multimedia health and wellness resource, and also hosts of the Urban Housecall Radio Show. For more from the doctors, visit their website at www.urbanhousecall.com, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter @urbanhousecall!