For forty years I lived in a protective bubble. I was a practicing physician with all the privileges of a physician. I was in a unique position that allowed me to judge other physicians in the community and as such, I knew who I could trust, their clinical prowess and, most of all, their “Care Factor.’
“Care Factor” (CF) is a term I coined and of all the scales one could rate a physician on, the “Care Factor” was the most important.
When looking for a physician to care for my family or my patients, I needed a well-trained, experienced physician who cared about his/her patients above all else. Moving to North Carolina burst my bubble.
I never realized how scary it was when you were sick and looking for a doc to take care of you especially when you did not know anyone in the community. I never realized how difficult it was to assess a new doc’s “Care Factor” on first seeing them. My former status as a practicing physician certainly helps in my assessment of my new medical family but I still find meeting a new doc to be a scary event.
Yesterday, I saw a new dermatologist, Dr C Julian. I had met him at my son’s house on a prior visit to Atlanta and therefore had already assessed his abilities and “Care Factor.” In his case, he exudes care. There are some docs that, on first glance, obviously care about their patients and profession. I was lucky to find him and, when he wanted to excise a suspicious lesion, found it easy to say yes and sign the surgical permit.
When searching for a generalist/geriatrician, I admit that I was nervous on arriving at her office for the first visit. In her case, the receptionist/nurse that greeted Renee and at the door, was remarkable. She exuded warmth and care and my nervousness quickly dissipated. Again, I was lucky that I found a physician that appeared to have a strong “Care Factor.” Dr. Rosen also has mastered the art of listening. “The Listening Factor” (LF), is a close second to the CF in its importance and ability to allay fear.
Unfortunately, assessing the CF and LF of a particular physician is usually a difficult task requiring multiple visits to determine. If I had a lot of time and resources, I would quickly abandon those docs who didn’t exude care and continue my search for the perfect medical team. I don’t have a lot of time and am no longer in my protective bubble, so I will stay the course with the rest of my clinical team and assess them as time passes.
My fears are real yet tempered by my knowledge as a MD. I can’t imagine what this stage of my life would be like if I didn’t have that unique perspective. I would like to believe that I was one of those docs who exuded care and allayed my patients fears. I would like to believe that I had a huge LF. But I’m a realist and, as such, realize that there were those days when the practice of medicine was overwhelming and my CF and LF were not at their best.
Had the new patients who met me on a bad day abandoned my practice, they would not have known that my CF was the essence of my life and practice or that my LF scored extremely high. Instead, they would have told you that Dr. Segal was a jerk. They would not have known that 10 minutes before they met me, I had to comfort a family whose loved one just died or dealt with a case of child abuse.So, how do you deal with the anxiety of seeing a new doc? Hopefully you’ll get lucky and find physicians that exude care but if you don’t, cut them a break and assess their skills over time