Interview with Haleh Rabizadeh Resnick
Haleh Rabizadeh Resnick, Esq., author of Little Patient Big Doctor, speaks to groups about parenting and health advocacy. She was kind enough to tell us about her experience searching for doctors for her kids.
What are the first steps to finding a great doctor?
The main thing is that you don’t have to accept the first doctor you come across. If you’re facing a new circumstance or some kind of major medical situation that’s come down your path, I believe that finding clinical references and referrals is the best option. You need to first explore the medical community you know and ask around until you find a doctor whose name or reputation keeps coming up. Once you have that name, or if you’re looking around more generally, I think there are two very important things to consider.
First, you need to make sure that you and the doctor are on the same page. Whatever you view as your health goal, you want the doctor to say, “Yes, I can make that happen for you.” You need to believe in each other and always be working toward the same outcome.
Second, you need to be able to click with your doctor, no matter what type of medical situation you’re facing. If you can’t connect, you can’t effectively talk to each other. Your doctor could be the most brilliant doctor in the world, but if you don’t agree with her methods, or if she has an accent and you can’t always understand her, or if she’s cocky and you’re more down to earth or vice versa, it’s not going to work.
How can you tell if a doctor is a good fit before the first appointment?
It’s often difficult to get in touch directly with doctors, so I like to call a nurse in the practice and ask some preliminary questions. For me, it’s important that my doctor be open to alternative therapies and understand nutrition as a vital component of overall health. Those are priorities for me. So I’ll call and ask a nurse how open the doctor is to thinking outside of the box.
I’ve had nurses say, “This doctor is very well-known and respected, but he’s traditional.”
I’ve also had nurses say, “Actually, this doctor is involved in research and is very open to alternative solutions.”
In that way, they’re respectful of the practice, but they can still give you good information about the doctor’s style and approach. That’s been a great way of evaluating the fit for me.
Do you exchange recommendations with friends?
Taking a recommendation from a friend doesn’t necessarily guarantee a good fit. Once, I was going to a pediatrician who I thought was wonderful, so I recommended him to a friend. When the babies are little, you have to go in every week or so, and she left that pediatrician after about a month.
She told me that it was not a good fit for her because she felt that he was always too sarcastic. But that was why I loved him! I thought he was so funny, and I liked how he tried to lighten things up. Even friends often discover that they want very different things from their doctors.
What are some other tools you’ve used for finding a doctor?
Of course, there are tools on the Internet. There are all kinds of lists about who the best doctors are by location or specialty. There are magazines that rank the top doctors in your area.
I do it the old-fashioned way—through word of mouth. Find out who other doctors use. Ask your neighbors. I also think it’s great when doctors connect with Facebook.
We don’t have to wait until it’s too late- we make our own fate. Good doctors who can help us are out there. We just need to find them.
For more great advice from Haleh Rabizadeh Resnick, check out her book here.