Q&A with Dr. Michael Chen
What should I look for in choosing a doctor after being diagnosed with a brain aneurysm?
In medicine, as with most professions, there are a wide range of skills, knowledge, interests and personalities, depending on the physician or practice you choose. All of these factors can play a critical role in the success physicians have in caring for their patients. These issues are particularly important when caring for someone diagnosed with a brain aneurysm. As a patient, your outcome can be highly dependent on who is taking care of you, in addition to the severity of your disease. There are many variables to consider when evaluating physicians.
What personal quality should I look for in a doctor?
One quality in particular that I would like to elaborate on is “patience”. People are in such a rush these days. Many new businesses are now formed with the sole purpose of helping us do things faster and more efficiently. With the widespread adoption of electronic medical records, an emphasis on medical decisions based on clinical evidence and greater amounts of data now available for each patient, there is a tendency to seek ways to achieve efficiency in the practice of medicine. Getting caught up in this urge stifles the opportunity for physicians to practice the type of medicine our patients truly need. Pay attention to how your physician talks with you, carries himself in the office, examines you and explains things to you. A lot of these professional habits in the office with patients may translate to how they go about performing a procedure or surgery. Do they appear unorganized? Do they appear prepared? Do they rush through things? Do they take their time and think about things? Do they seem like they take the time to do things carefully?
How do you practice what you preach?
When it comes to brain aneurysms, we are confronting something delicate, complex and potentially life-threatening, or at least neurologically disabling. Part of what appeals to me about being a doctor is the necessity of slowing things down when I care for my patients. There are many opportunities to take your time, such as when I am in the office reviewing symptoms, medical history and imaging with a patient. Here, I like to take my time so not to miss any potentially important details. In our neurovascular conferences where we discuss management approaches to challenging cases, I like to dwell a little on each case to make sure we are considering as many perspectives as possible.
Even in the procedure room, we take our time reviewing safety checklists to smoothly and methodically complete each case. It is easier to think clearly, act precisely and react appropriately when we know when to slow down and focus in on the patient.
Any last words of wisdom?
After several years in practice, I understand more than ever the value of patience when practicing medicine.
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