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My Perfect Doctor Checklist

After five years of living with IBD, I feel I’m pretty well-versed in meeting new doctors. I’ve had good doctors, so-so doctors, and bad doctors. But, up until now, I wasn’t lucky enough to feel I had found the ‘perfect doctor’; who I ended up meeting entirely by chance a few weeks ago.

Since being pregnant, I have been seeing my gastro doctor monthly but, unfortunately, he went off on sick leave. At the time, I was incredibly anxious because I really didn’t want to start over with a brand new doctor so late into my pregnancy (and he was a nice enough doctor!).

I found a doctor that ticks all my boxes

Because of difficulties in getting an appointment, I ended up being moved to a whole new hospital and medical team. So I was nervous, to say the least! However, the medical gods must have been shining down because I finally found a doctor who ticks all my boxes! And it really does make ALL the difference! So today I thought I’d share just what makes my doctor so great and what I think we should all be looking for from our own! Of course, I live in the UK and I appreciate my experience with doctors on the NHS might be different from those who live in countries with private healthcare. But hopefully, you’ll be able to relate to this wherever you’re from…

The reasons why I love my new doctor:

She reads my notes before my appointment

You might be reading this thinking ‘well, duh!’. But I can’t tell you the number of doctors I’ve seen who don’t read my notes and just ask me every question from the beginning at each appointment.’So tell me about your Crohn’s, when did it start?’ Not only did this doctor not ask me to recite my entire history, but she actually asked questions based on my notes rather than the pointless ‘how many times have you been to the toilet?’ over an over again. She mentioned things from years ago (like my fistula) without me having to drag it all up! In other words: she knew her patients like the back of her hand.

She is empathetic to my mental health

This doctor actually asks how I’m feeling beyond my IBD. She asked about my pregnancy. She asked if I was worried about anything. When I shared my anxiety, she told me how well I was doing and that I had nothing to worry about. She even gave me a little inspirational pep talk on how proud she was of my results and progress (I do love praise!). She got that my IBD affects me mentally as well as physically.

She made me feel involved in my treatment plans

Sometimes it feels like doctors go over our head and just tell us the next steps. My doctor made me feel included when she discussed other tests we could do and potential treatments. She remembered my anxiety and concerns around some tests from previous appointments and took this into account before pushing ahead. It felt as if we were a team.

She didn’t rush me…

Or seem desperate to get me out the door. She took her time. She asked if I had any other questions before I left. She made it seem as if it was a pleasure to see me rather than just ticking another patient off her list.

She spoke positively about IBD

Okay, Crohn’s is no picnic. But all of the doctor’s language was positive. In that, we would work together to make sure I was as well as possible. Rather than it being something that would hold me back. I know IBD is a lifelong condition, but I felt as if this doctor wanted to stress that it didn’t define me and we could strive for feeling as well as possible.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The InflammatoryBowelDisease.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • Amanda Osowski moderator
    1 month ago

    This is such a great post, and I appreciate the checklist so much. I was sort of forced into finding a new doctor a year and a half ago, and I was so unprepared emotionally after being with my last GI for 5+ years. I’m finally settled now, but I know this will come in such handy if/when I have to transition again in the future.

    Thanks!
    Amanda (team member)

  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    2 months ago

    So happy you have found such an amazing doctor. She sounds terrific.

    I have yet to have a GI ask me how I am doing mentally and I was diagnosed in 2011. I feel like that would be the best feeling ever–a doctor who understands the disease effects so many aspect of our lives.

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

  • Julie Marie Palumbo moderator
    2 months ago

    Wow, this is amazing, Jenna! Your doctor should be the typical protocol for all doctors (not just GIs) to follow.

    My favorite part is that she asks how you are doing mentally and what concerns you have, even regarding the pregnancy. If only all doctors cared about our overall well-being rather than just treating one problem at a time. Thanks for sharing!

    –Julie (Team Member)

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