Whether you have a skin condition that requires diagnosis and or treatment, or you want to explore cosmetic procedures that may help you reach your skin care goals, choosing a dermatologist is an important and personal decision. Every patient is different and we all have our own unique set of requirements and priorities. Still, the following general factors may help you discover which dermatologist will be the best fit for your individual needs.
As with almost anything else, sometimes a referral from a trusted family member of friend is all it takes to point you in the right direction. Your primary care physician may also be able to help in this regard.
If nothing else, asking for referrals can help you to create a “short list” against which you can apply the remaining considerations. With your list now in hand, call each office to see if the Doctor is accepting new patients, the lead time required for an appointment and whether or not your insurance plan is accepted.
Board certification is very important because it lets you know that the doctor has the necessary training and experience. Typically, a dermatologist’s website will provide a bio prospective patients can access this information. In addition, you can also find the dermatologist’s medical school, training hospital, certifications, and malpractice and disciplinary history on Healthgrades.com and/or on state websites.
As with most professions, the more experience a dermatologist has the better the results are likely to be. Depending on the condition and/or procedure required, fellowship training in a subspecialty like skin cancer surgery or hair and nail disorders may be appropriate. You can and should ask your doctor how many patients with your specific condition he or she has treated in a similar manner. They should also be willing to discuss complication risks and rates.
It is OK to consider gender because it is important that you feel comfortable having open and frank discussions about your personal health information. Plus, today dermatologists are becoming more skilled in caring for women and men differently. So the bottom line is this. If you feel that the doctor’s gender is an important factor – it is.
The dermatologist you select should be someone who explains every step of your procedure and who offers alternatives when available so that you can make the best decisions. Your doctor should welcome your questions and answer them in ways that you can understand without feeling rushed. Find a dermatologist who shows an interest in getting to know you, who will consider your treatment preferences, and who will respect your decision-making process.
6. Patient Reviews
You can learn a lot by reading patient reviews. They can provide insight into how a doctor practices medicine, as well as how the practice is managed. After all, even the best doctors need top support staff and since patient reviews typically reveal experience with scheduling appointments, wait times, office environment, and office staff friendliness. You can learn about how well patients trust the doctor, how much time he or she spends with their patients, and how well he or she answers questions. Remember though. You can’t please everyone all the time, so be maintain a skeptical eye for those with perfect scores across the board!