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3 Tips for Choosing the Right Doctor

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After going to so many different specialists in my area, I had grown weary of finding anyone who could tell me what was going on in my body. It wasn’t until I was sitting in a waiting room in Mount Auburn Hospital that I was finally given the gift of an accurate diagnosis, so I would know what to expect and how to handle the symptoms and seasons that would come next.

I remember the day of my diagnosis. I was in shock, denial, full of anxiety, nervousness and fear. I didn’t understand why or what I had. I would need a whole year to finally accept it, but there was one person who made that day and that year the best experience I could have had under the circumstances: the right doctor. Kathryn Wang was my superhero in a white lab coat. She was attentive to my every request, thorough in her examination and patient in my denial. She carried a comfort and compassion I couldn’t replace or replicate in any other office. She was my partner in fighting muscular dystrophy.

Keisha with Dr. Wang.
Keisha with Dr. Wang.

Though I started with Dr. Wang, our time was initially short-lived as she moved to another hospital and my insurance no longer covered her services. I was heartbroken, but I knew I could still find the care I needed minus the one of a kind experience I had with her. Since then I have found wonderful doctors, but few like Dr. Wang. They are not as warm, thorough or patient as she was and I learned to deal with that — until I was able to reconnect with Dr. Wang.

One day, while scrolling online reviews of doctors in my area, I found a doctor with her exact name. Hopeful that there weren’t that many people named Kathryn Wang practicing medicine, I had my doctor write the referral and scheduled the appointment. It made my day.

I felt so excited that we were able to reconnect. When she came in she said, “Keisha! I saw your name and couldn’t believe it.”

With her, I always get a full examination. She doesn’t leave anything out. If I ask, she will do it. She showed me exercises to compliment what I learned at physical therapy. She just really cared. She gave me her email and let me contact her at any time.

I share this story to help you identify a few key traits of a great doctor. Having the right support medically can be the difference in your quality of treatment, recovery and experience. I recommend looking for the following when evaluating a potential doctor:

1. Are they thorough? What I loved about Dr. Wang from day one was her insisting that we do every possible test to figure out what was happening with my body. Not every doctor will go through the trouble to do that.

2. Do you have a connection with them? This doesn’t happen with every doctor, but I what I missed the most about having Dr. Wang as my doctor was our connection. I always had the feeling that she truly cared about me as a person and not just as another patient. That connection may look or feel different for every person, but we all know when we click with another person. Identify the things you need to see (compassion, patience, consideration, thoroughness etc.) and make sure you’re comfortable with your choice.

3. Are they willing to direct you to others when necessary? This isn’t something you will necessarily be able to ask or know until something requires the conversation, but what I loved about Dr. Wang was that after she diagnosed me, she sent me for a second opinion to her mentor. Her mentor (the doctor who trained her) ended up becoming my doctor as Dr. Wang moved, and I couldn’t have been more grateful for her humility and consideration to make sure I was in very good hands when she left.

I’m not a medical professional and this is not an exhaustive list of what to look for, but these are traits I have been blessed to experience while working with Dr. Wang and other doctors. I hope you can use these qualities to find the right doctor to help you navigate disability or chronic illness one day at a time.

Getty image by Avatar 023.

Originally published: November 8, 2018
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