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Choosing the Right Gynecologist

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

There are many reasons why you might be looking for a gynecologist. Maybe you are looking for a doctor to see for the first time, or maybe things just aren’t working out with your current doctor. Maybe you have moved to a new place and must find a local gynecologist. In any case, this is a decision that should be taken seriously. Friends and family members can be valuable sources of recommendations, but realize that their recommendations are likely to be based on things like whether the doctor is personable and how long they have to wait for appointments, rather than whether the doctor is board-certified or how long they have been in practice.

Board certification is extremely important and a topic that I cover extensively in Inside Information for Women. Terms like “board eligible” or “board active” mean that the practitioner is not board certified. So, the first thing you should check for is current board certification to ensure that you are seeing a qualified gynecologist (or other specialist).

You may also need to check with your insurance provider to make sure that the doctor you are considering will be approved by them. Once you have narrowed your options down to a few conveniently located, board certified gynecologists, see if you can set up a meeting with each one. Your insurance company will probably not cover this meeting, so be prepared to pay out of pocket. If you choose not to set up a preliminary meeting, you can still get some useful information from a receptionist or secretary.

Things You Should Know Before Selecting a Gynecologist

Questions you should ask include how long it takes to schedule appointments if you have a non-routine concern and whether there are times when the doctor can be reached by phone. As this report shows, doctors are busier than ever, so ensuring that the doctor you choose will be available when you need him or her is important. You may want to know where the doctor attended school and completed his or her training. Also, ask which hospitals he or she is affiliated with; this may be especially important if you are planning to become pregnant. Finally, you may also want to know how long the doctor has been in practice. Again, if you can’t meet with the doctor before scheduling an appointment, an administrative person can answer any of these questions.

While the answers to these questions might tell you whether the doctor is competent, they will not tell you anything about your chemistry with the doctor or whether you will like him or her. Keep in mind that a competent doctor is much more valuable than a personable doctor – but if you can get both, all the better. If you really have poor chemistry with your gynecologist, it’s best to make a change – but be sure your new doctor is board certified and otherwise competent and available, not just someone who is located closer-by or smiles more.

– Yvonne S. Thornton, M. D., M. P. H.