Southern Oregon is a magnet for those who love living the good life, and folks of all ages are moving to Jackson County because it’s a great place to work, play and retire.
Picking up and moving to a new community is more than packing and unpacking. It also means finding a new favorite grocery store, a good dry cleaner, the best barista, and new health care providers. An intensely personal decision, choosing your doctor can be one of the most important decisions you’ll make as part of the transition to your new home.
Dr. Robin Miller, an internist with Triune Integrative Medicine Clinic in Medford has thought a lot about the doctor-patient relationship: “Find someone who can be a partner in your health care,” she suggests. “Find out if their personality matches yours, if their approach to medicine matches yours.” Many doctors offer an initial consult appointment so you can learn whether a doctor shares your philosophy of health care, appreciates your communication style, and will be responsive to your information needs.
After you’ve made your choice, get organized so that you and your physician will have the information you both need to make decisions about your medical care.
Probably the best way to find a new doctor is to ask around for personal recommendations. Pay particular attention to the recommendations of people who are similar to you in age, health and outlook. You can also get background information on medical doctors, physician assistants, acupuncturists, and podiatrists on the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners website at www.oregon.gov/OMB/.
Health professionals’ public records on the Oregon Board of Medical Examiners website include age, medical school training, date of graduation, specialty and license number. It also has information about board actions currently in effect that may limit or restrict a health professional’s practice as well as closed malpractice claims. The board notes that “the settlement of a medical malpractice action may occur for a variety of reasons that do not necessarily reflect negatively on the professional competence or conduct of the provider.”
Dr. Jani Rollins, family medicine physician in Ashland, wants to know as much as possible about her new patients. “Before the visit, I would like previous records. If it would be possible to get records from your old physician that would help a lot because we can look at them before we even see you.” It can take time to get the appropriate releases and transfer files, so get on this task as soon as you can.
“Think about what your issues are before you walk in there,” stresses Dr. Miller. “Often doctors are very limited in their time so make sure that you know what you want to talk about.” And there’s a lot to cover at your first appointment — you can expect lots of questions about your health and lifestyle.
Family history is important, so write out as much as you know about the health history of both sides of your family before your visit. “More and more we’re finding out that genetics play a big role in a person’s health,” Dr. Rollins says. “If we can be aware of what runs in someone’s family, then we can better care for that individual.”
Be prepared with a list of the prescription drugs, supplements, vitamins and over-the-counter medications you take. “Anything you’re putting in your body we need to know about because there are interactions,” explains Dr. Rollins. Dr. Miller suggests that it might be easiest to dump all your pills and bottles into a bag and bring them along.
Dr. Rollins encourages her patients to ask questions and get clarification. “Patients walk out and then they say ‘Oh, I forgot to ask this’ or ‘I didn’t understand that’ or ‘I didn’t ask enough questions.’” Sometimes having a family member with you is a second pair of ears to help keep track of things you’ll need to remember.
Building a rapport with your new doctor is important and may not come on the first visit. “Patients need to know you’re going to be an advocate for them, that they can trust you; that what they’re telling you is confidential and that you’ll be on their side and support them,” Dr. Rollins emphasizes. “So if they share information that’s a little bit scary to them, about prescription over use, alcohol use or abuse at the home — you name it there are a lot of subjects that people don’t like to talk about — then they know that you’re going to be there for them.”