The perfect doctor is smart and experienced, credentialed, listens intently, spends ample time with their patients, explains every detail of the diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis thoroughly and clearly and is compassionate about what he or she does. If you’re lucky, you may get that perfect doctor.
Selecting the right physician is a personal decision, but there are certain characteristics for which you should look. Both medical knowledge and bedside manner are extremely important. You would want your doctor to be the best and have the utmost diligence to do the right thing for you. If you or someone you know is facing cancer, there are several key doctors who’ll be involved in treatment:
- Medical Oncology: Internal medicine sub-specialty specializing in the treatment of cancer.
- Hematology: Internal medicine sub-specialty specializing in the treatment of diseases of the blood and related tissues, including the bone marrow, spleen, and lymph nodes.
- Radiation Oncology: Radiology sub-specialty specializing in the use of radiation to treat cancer.
- Surgery: Physician specializing in the treatment of disease by surgical operation. General surgeons perform operations on almost any area of the body. Physicians can also choose to specialize in a certain type of surgery; for example, thoracic surgeons are specialists who perform operations specifically in the chest area, including the lungs and the esophagus.
Typically, you’ll select your Medical Oncologist and they will team with the other physician. However, it is important that you interview them and sign off on each physician. Remember, you are in control of your treatment.
Here are my suggested interview questions and topics for selecting the best medical oncologist:
- Where did the doctor train, how long have they been in practice and are they board certified?
- What support structure and resources does the doctor have available to help with new and difficult cases? What hospital affiliations do they have?
- How does the doctor keeps up on the latest treatment options and how many cases of your cancer do they they treat annually?
- Did you feel rapport with the doctor during your interview (the first time you met him/her)?
- Do you think the doctor invested the appropriate amount of time with you?
- Do you feel the doctor generally cares about you?
- Does the doctor’s support staff seem professional, engaging and supportive?
- After you leave, do you understand the diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis and do you feel that you have a good plan?