It takes two | Inquirer Opinion
In the Pink of Health

It takes two

Could you please recommend a doctor who I can consult for a friend having vision problems?” I replied, “I would have to ask and get back to you?”

You would probably think that being in the medical field, we will always have a ready answer. We don’t. Just like you, we would also need to do our research and network when in need of physicians outside our circle of expertise.

Sitting at a table with female baby boomers over one weekend, the animated discussion eventually shifted to medical issues. Midway, I made a quick survey to look into the criteria that influence their choice of “attendings” (attending doctors). What is to follow includes those gathered from past conversations. “Gusto ko ‘yung gwapo! ”

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“I want a doctor with a proven track record.”

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“I want someone who listens and to whom I can freely speak with.”

“I want someone who is competent and covered by a health maintenance organization.”

“I want someone who is a known expert in the field but does not command astronomical fees.”

“I want someone who has weekend and after-office schedules, does teleconsults, and easy to reach. “

“I want doctors who are older as they are the more experienced ones.”

“I want someone with good bedside manners and a comforting presence.”

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“I want a doctor who is genuinely compassionate.”

A cousin turns to me and throws back the question, “As a doctor, how do you go about choosing one for yourself?” Well for starters, I jokingly agreed that it wouldn’t hurt if he was a looker, but beyond capability which is a given and the topmost qualification, it would be his capacity to listen, empathize, and clearly make you understand his impression of your case in a language that could be easily understood. The most knowledgeable will always keep things simple and digestible. In addition, the perfect plus factors are: if he or she is a friend, and one who happens to be in a field that would be able to address your health concerns. Having worked together toward achieving that singular dream of legitimately attaching the M.D. to your names and surviving, a deeper knowledge and awareness of each other as friends go a long way in strengthening and enhancing a doctor-to-patient relationship. I went on to say that though this opportunity is not frequently available to most, such relationships do exist.

Let me share an incident that I was fortunate to have personally witnessed in the past year.

Dream team. Several months ago, I received a precious invite to be part of a beloved mentor and friend’s 70th birthday. She had recently been diagnosed with a gynecological malignancy, was undergoing chemotherapy, and as a consequence, had not only lost her hair but was experiencing unwanted side effects. Worried about her fragile immune system and the implications of being in an enclosed space, I drove to the venue feeling apprehensive but nonetheless all prepared and ready to party. In attendance, aside from her immediate and extended family, were faculty members from the university, her best friends from kindergarten, and a group of men and women who stood out, fashionably dressed in wigs and clothes reminiscent of the ’70s. Upon taking a closer look, after recognizing a prominent and familiar face, I realized that these were her friends and batchmates from medical school, who at the onset had willingly and unselfishly offered themselves to be part of her medical team. Witnessing the abundance of love, warmth, kindness, and support, I can better understand, why she never fails to constantly remind us not to forget, that the Chief Editor from up above continuously gives us so many reasons to celebrate, even in the face of situations beyond our control. Who but your true friends, aside from family, would have your best interests at heart?

Perusing all the criteria previously mentioned, there will never be anyone who would be the perfect fit or match at the onset. In the search for the right doctor, a good place to start would always be to ask for referrals from your family or your friends, and follow through with diligent research. Though this may not be a guaranteed route, this would always be a better option than randomly consulting a hospital directory, a website, or even social media. In the event that you have finally made your choice, keep an open mind and consciously avoid premature judgment. Try to come into the clinic prepared with a list of questions rather than answers. Your first goal is to seek consultation. Furthermore, one visit may not be enough to explore the possibility of having a future relationship. Remember, as in any and in everything, it will always take two.

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TAGS: In The Pink of Health, medical column

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