Tips for Choosing a Gynecologist
It's important to take your time when choosing a healthcare provider to care for your body and reproductive systems during your pregnancy, labor and for post-natal care and beyond. Doing your homework, that is background research, will help you with your decision but never underestimate your gut instincts. If you're not comfortable with the gynecologist, it doesn't matter if he or she comes with the highest recommendations and is highly qualified. You need to feel right from the first visit that this doctor is the one you can trust with your most serious and most private concerns.
Identify Your Needs
This is something you'll need to do on your own before you begin the process of looking. Is the doctor's gender important to you? Some women prefer female gynecologists while others prefer male. For others gender isn't an issue. Where would you like your doctor to be located? If travel is difficult for you, you may want to choose a doctor closer to your home or work. Consider the hours you need or would like your doctor to be available for regular, non-emergency visits.
The gyn's affiliations may be important to you. Some women prefer doctors in private practices. Others would rather have ones based in a hospital or academic health science center. Usually affiliations don't affect the level or quality of service provided, but they are something to consider if affiliations can make the difference between you feeling comfortable or uncomfortable with your doctor.
If you're not pregnant but wish to become pregnant in the near future, you need to make sure your gynecologist also practices obstetrics (prenatal care and delivering babies). The same is true if you're currently pregnant.
Heredity diseases like gynecologic cancer in your family may make you want to choose a sub-specialist gynecologist (gynecologist oncologist) or one who has additional training in your type of cancer.
Limitations in insurance coverage will also affect your choice of doctor.
Finding a Gynecologist
You can get recommendations from friends, family, neighbors and co-workers. Get names of doctors from county medical societies being aware that the names they offer will not be an endorsement of any kind. Once you have a name of potential physicians, narrow down your list based on your personal needs.
Phone the Office
Further narrow down your list by phoning the office to see what type of service you receive. Get an idea of the overall practice style by the way the office staff speaks to you. A repeated busy signal may suggest a doctor who is too busy and one whom you won't be able to get a hold of in an emergency.
Ask to schedule an appointment. If the visit is several weeks away there could be three reasons for this: the doctor is extremely popular, the doctor schedules routine/annual exams with a longer wait time than acute, problem-oriented visits, or the doctor is too busy.
Analyze Your Reaction to the First Visit
Make sure you ask all the questions necessary to get the answers you need. When you get home, analyze your reaction to the visit. Ask yourself what you thought about the overall visit. Did you feel like you were treated well (with courtesy and respect) by the doctor and office staff? Did you feel comfortable asking all your questions? Were you heard and understood? If your needs were met and the overall visit went well, congratulations. You have found yourself a gynecologist.