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What Makes a Good OBGYN vs. a Bad OBGYN

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I have a confession to make: I hate doctors’ appointments. I live with multiple health conditions, which means I’ve gone through my fair share of bad doctors, which is why I often avoid seeing primary care doctors and even specialists as much as I can.

However, one doctor I’ve always had great experiences with is my obstetrician/gynecologist. Since my first appointment with her in 2012, she has consistently shown professionalism and compassion. She’s dealt with my trauma responses related to past sexual assault, cared for me through two pregnancies and one miscarriage, and remained calm when I disclosed my same-sex relationship.

I realize that my experience may not be the same as everyone’s, but I do think that my doctor has helped me realize there are certain qualities that make a good OBGYN versus a bad one.

A good OBGYN is trauma-informed and understands how trauma may impact a patient.

One in four people experiences at least one traumatic event before their 18th birthday. This means that at least 25 percent of the individuals who step into a gynecologist’s office have experienced some form of trauma at some point during their life. Regardless of what form of trauma a person experiences or whether they have a PTSD diagnosis, that past trauma can impact a patient during vulnerable moments such as a pap smear or other vaginal health exam.

A good OBGYN recognizes that trauma may impact people, and they take active steps to provide trauma-informed care to every single patient they see. This means the provider takes time to establish trust, make the patient feel safe, and empower the patient during all interactions. This may require some modifications to exams and other protocols, and it may mean the doctor needs to spend additional time with certain patients. However, it’s all for the benefit of the patient, and this should be a physician’s top priority.

A good OBGYN explains procedures before they begin and throughout the process.

Bedside manners involve so much more than putting on a smile when you enter a room. Good patient care includes addressing each person’s concerns and making them feel at ease. In many instances, this special care includes procedure explanation and constant communication throughout any work performed.

Most patients, even those who don’t have a trauma history, appreciate it when providers explain procedures and walk them through the process. This simple gesture eases anxiety, shows compassion, and avoids misunderstandings that can occur through assumptions. Therefore, any OBGYN who is decent at their job will tell patients what to expect and, at the bare minimum, announce the steps of the process as they perform them.

A good OBGYN seeks out continuing education.

The field of medicine is constantly changing, just like every other thing in the world. Therefore, it’s important for OBGYNs to stay up-to-date with medical knowledge and news that may impact their work. Doing this requires more than just turning on the news every once in a while, though. It involves putting forth the effort to continue their education.

OBGYNs can take continuing education courses on a variety of topics. For example, they may elect to learn more about sexual dysfunction or sexually transmitted infections. They may also want to learn more about caring for nonbinary and transgender patients who need reproductive care.

A good OBGYN provides patients with information so they can make informed decisions about their care.

When a patient needs treatment for an illness or health condition, there are usually multiple options available. Any good medical provider takes the time to share all the information they can with their patient about their health and all the treatment options they can pursue. For OBGYNs, this is especially important since they deal with everything from pregnancy to conditions like PCOS and endometriosis.

A good OBGYN takes a non-judgmental stance with each patient they see.

All doctors see a wide variety of patients. However, due to the nature of their specialty, OBGYNs deal with a lot of unique information from their patients. These doctors may provide care to sex workers, people who lack knowledge in how to properly care for their vagina, individuals dealing with post-partum depression, and other unique patients.

Regardless, a good OBGYN understands that all humans deserve proper care and these aspects of a person don’t make them less worthy than others. These doctors take a non-judgmental stance with every patient they see and focus on providing the best possible care for each person based on what they need.

A good OBGYN delivers difficult information in a compassionate way.

Unfortunately, an OBGYN’s job doesn’t just involve pap smears and delivering healthy babies. These doctors also have to dish out their fair share of bad news. They may have to tell a person they’ve lost a pregnancy, they may have to share news of an STI, or they may even have to deliver news about a terminal health condition. Regardless, a good OBGYN delivers this difficult news with compassion and concern for the patient’s emotional well-being.

A good OBGYN is mindful and accepting of all patients who require their care.

A good OBGYN does a lot for their patients. However, all of this care boils down to one simple thing — acceptance. A quality medical provider demonstrates acceptance with every patient they see, regardless of their appearance, their past, or any other part of their identity. Great doctors are mindful of how various aspects of a patient’s identity may impact their interactions and responses, and take this into consideration. They also go the extra mile to make sure all patients feel welcome and accepted every time they come in for an appointment or treatment of any kind.

Getty image by SDI Productions

Originally published: August 15, 2022
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