Finding a Good Dermatologist, Part 2
I found a good dermatologist, I think, I hope.
Finding the time
A couple of weeks ago I had appointments to see a new dentist and dermatologist on the same day. I had been procrastinating a bit by attending to the 10,000 things that I needed to get done after moving to the NYC area from Buffalo. I guess I had been putting both off because well, I don’t like root canals or biopsies (who does?).
Finding a dermatologist for skin cancer
I will spare you the details of my dental appointment, but my dermatology appointment was another matter. I found this dermatologist through my insurance company. He had dozens of good online reviews with over 30 years of experience. His reviews discussed his treatment of skin cancer in particular and it gave me a reasonable degree of confidence. His education and board certification qualifications sold me on giving him a chance.
At the appointment, he entered without the usual pre-examination by a physician’s assistant or nurse. We discussed my medical history and I casually mentioned that I write and moderate for skincancer.net. I think he was happy to hear that because he began to ask me questions that led to an actual conversation about skin cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. He knew that he had an informed patient and seemed to step up his game.
Building a rapport
He actually started to give me some new topics on which to write, with references. This gave me confidence that he was not just doing the bare minimum to keep up with the latest in his field but cared about research and being the best doctor he could be. He was a true professional. He wanted to know how patients felt about their condition and treatment in the industry. I appreciated this scholarly and personal approach.
He was very thorough
His examination style was different. While my previous dermatologist was very technical, this doctor noted and charted everything. While he was conducting his examination, he had an assistant document it all in my chart. I asked my new doctor if he wanted my previous charts and he gave me what I thought was an interesting answer. He said that he did not need the old charts because he believed that if something looked suspicious he would treat it immediately. In other words, he was not going to leave a small, pre-cancerous mole untreated and wait until it became a larger pre-cancerous mole; he was going to be proactive.
He made me feel confident
My new doctor felt that if something looked bad, it would be treated and would not wait until it became worse. He didn’t want to measure anything; he treated more on instinct based on his training, experience, and expertise. I don’t know if this is more of an “old school” approach, but it did remind me of the way my grandfather (who was a country doctor) interacted with his patients. This gave me confidence that if he suspected something, it would be treated and would not wait. He told me that he wants to have an appointment with me every six months. My previous doctor only wanted to see me every year, although I saw him more often because I often made appointments based on things I saw in my self-checks.
What to consider in a dermatologist
Overall, I was happy and satisfied with my experience.
Here is a quick checklist of things to consider, when you don’t have a personal recommendation:
- In looking for a dermatologist, what have others said about their experience? Find reviews, if possible.
- What are their certifications and specializations? Education? Experience?
- Does this doctor have a focus on skin cancer as well as other more prevalent, less serious skin conditions?
- At the appointment, ask questions. Does this doctor seem to have a handle on the latest research and treatments?
- Is your doctor’s style more technical or more intuitive and does this matter to you?
So, there you go. I found a dermatologist, now let me go schedule my root canal.
How well have your skin cancer diagnoses been explained to you?