I have a great endocrinologist – but I had to shop around to find him. My first endo seemed more interested in giving me additional medications than how I felt. And the second doc I tried had no bedside manner (to put it mildly): he’d flip through my blood sugar log, grumble that I needed to keep better records, scrawl a prescription, and send me out the door.
Lucky for me, my third try proved the charm: My current doc has proven to be my personal Dr. McDreamy.
All of which got me thinking about what traits make a good endocrinologist. I’m sure you have your own list, but here are five things that I was looking for:
1. Someone who doesn’t scold. Some visits we’re up a few pounds, others we’re down. Some visits our A1C readings are a few tenths of a decimal point higher; other times they fall. I want a doctor who can calmly talk to me about these blips, to ask me what I’ve done differently, acknowledge them, and then move on to see how we can change the needle if the needle needs changing.
2. Someone who offers me a say in my care. Managing a chronic disease is tough. It’s a day-to-day grind. It’s easy to throw meds at a condition, but I want to understand what those meds are, how they work, any side effects and whether, in truth, I require them. I want to be given the chance to say no if I think I can do better with diet or exercise, and, in general, I want to get a vote.
3. Someone who gives me a thorough exam. This means no rushing (more on this later). I want to have my pulse taken in my feet, a good sense of where I stand on my blood pressure and heart readings, and time to discuss the latest blood work. If there is anything out of the ordinary, I want to hear about it and find out what I can or can’t do about it.
4. Someone who is willing to listen. My most recent exam ran over twenty minutes. You heard me right – over 20 minutes. I had questions for the doctor: my cholesterol had gone up, so should I add additional statins to my treatment? I wondered about fatty liver disease, which I had read is present in almost 70% of people with type 2 diabetes – was he on the lookout for that in my blood work? We discussed.
5. Someone who is willing to talk about mood. A relationship with an endo goes on for years. So I like a little personal touch. I like him to ask me about my children, and I like to inquire about his. I appreciate that he asks about my mood, how things have been going with my work, and my life outside the doctor’s office. A doctor’s appointment isn’t a social call, of course, but talking with him about “real life” makes me feel less like just one of hundreds of patients he sees. It also gives me time to remember questions that I might have forgotten if we had simply stuck to the usual “check in, check out” script.
My advice: Don’t settle for less than a doctor who listens and cares, is thorough and doesn’t scold. You deserve that kind of care.