Last week, I talked about my decision to choose West Valley OBGYN and its providers for my prenatal care and delivery. But today I wanted to put the spotlight on my care team.
When I’m finding a healthcare provider, whether it be a primary care provider or a specialist, there are a few specific things I’m looking for:
- Are they in-network with my insurance? Kind of a no-brainer.
- Is their staff friendly and efficient? See last week’s blog for more on that topic.
- Do they seem rushed? Am I the priority once they walk in the room? Are they watching the clock? Are they really listening to my questions and concerns?
- Addressing my concerns is great, but are they also offering helpful information without me having to ask? Do they explain the “why” behind things?
- Are they current on the latest treatments and techniques? This is where educating yourself becomes so important. They probably have a really good reason for prescribing you a medication that hasn’t been commonly used since the ‘80s, and if that’s the case they shouldn’t be offended when you ask what it is.
Okay, are you ready to meet my care team?
You all know by now that I’m a huge fan of Karen’s — she’s the first provider I saw at West Valley OBGYN and who I consulted with when my husband and I decided we were ready to start “trying.” Karen has a warm, open personality that just clicked with me from the start. She’s easy-going, plain-spoken and completely unphased by tough questions. And she’s funny, which may not sound like the most critical thing ever, but it certainly helps when your specialty involves vaginas.
Here’s an anecdote I think sums up Karen pretty well: As part of my job at the hospital, I coordinate blogs on all kinds of health topics. We asked Karen to be the expert source on a blog about how to conceive when it feels like nothing is working (I have some experience with this). Here’s a snippet of the advice she gave: “Don’t set expectations. Sex doesn’t always have to be long and romantic — remember that a ‘quickie’ can get the job done. It’s often the preconceived notions that make sex seem more like a job.” I snorted out loud when I read that. And it completely captures all the reasons I like her.
When Karen suggested I start rotating among her colleagues for my visits (so I could get to know the team who would actually deliver my baby), Dr. Robinson is the first one she recommended. She assured me if I liked her style, I’d like his. After a few appointments, I definitely see what she means. Dr. Robinson has the same straight-forward approach with his patients, the same disarming sense of humor. He also does a great job of explaining himself as he goes. There wasn’t a test he performed without first describing the reason behind it and what he would be looking for — that’s really important to me.
But I think the reason I feel the most comfortable with Dr. Robinson is the experience he brings to the table. He’s been practicing medicine, specifically obstetrics and gynecology, for more than 30 years. You’ll see the initials FACOG after his name— that means he’s a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Beyond receiving board certification, physicians with this credential have met extra criteria outlined by the ACOG and are required to stay up-to-date on the latest guidelines and procedures in the field. So if Dr. Robinson is the physician who ultimately attends my delivery, I know I’ll be in the very best hands possible.
Of all the doctors I’ve met in all my years, Dr. Fu might get the award for best bedside manner. I think the easiest way to explain this is to walk you through my first visit with her:
Dr. Fu entered the room and introduced herself — pretty typical stuff — but then she took a few minutes to get to know me. No medical questions, just friendly chit chat. It sounds so simple, but it helped to put me at ease and made me feel like a priority for her. When she did get to my medical exam, she went back through the notes from my previous visits and inquired about a symptom I’d mentioned around week 12. It ended up resolving itself and I never felt the need to bring it up again. But Dr. Fu did. That she took the time (and trust me, the lady is crazy busy) to familiarize herself my individual medical history and needs — it really blew me away.
On a side note, you guys know I’m a nerd, so it shouldn’t shock you to learn I’m a sucker for charts, diagrams and facts and figures. When Dr. Fu was explaining a specific symptom to me, she pulled out an anatomical model. I swooned. I know, I know, I’m a weirdo.
If you haven’t heard me mention Dr. Hunter yet, it’s because he just started with West Valley OBGYN in October. Even before I met him, I was really impressed by his background. First of all, he went to Brown for his undergrad— not an easy school to get accepted to, let alone graduate from. Secondly, he grew up in a rural area and practiced medicine in a migrant farming community, which means he’s familiar with the unique needs of a community like Caldwell.
It’s actually pretty funny — I basically had my first exam with him on camera. We film short videos for YouTube about many of our providers and Dr. Hunter filmed his a few weeks ago. They needed a pregnant woman to pose as a patient in the video, so I volunteered since I had an upcoming appointment with him anyway. When the video is posted, you’ll see me having a fetal doppler (heartbeat check) and having my abdomen measured. It was essentially a real medical exam, except Dr. Hunter had to perform it on a patient he’d never met (who was also blogging about her experience) with a camera in his face. He did remarkably well, better than I would have under the same circumstances.
If I had one sage piece of advice to leave you with, it’s to remember that doctors are just human. They can be intimidating, but they have families and hobbies and bad habits just like you. Don’t be afraid to ask them things — trust me, nothing you inquire about will be the dumbest question they ever heard … they do have me as a patient, after all.