Each and every one of us have received our lives, and our health, as gifts from God, and we have a duty to care for those gifts. In fulfilling this duty, we often will want to have a strong relationship with a physician, so it is important to think and pray about what qualities make for a good physician. While features of our current health care system, such as provider networks, unfortunately limit who we have the ability to see, we want to prioritize having a physician who will provide authentic care in cooperation with Christ the Healer. The following are broad questions for you to consider asking a physician (or otherwise understand), as you prayerfully seek to receive care for yourself and your family.
Question 1: How do you see your role as my physician?
This question is very important because it tells you how your physician practices medicine, and whether he or she will follow the duty to do no harm. In other words, what is the physician’s philosophy of medicine? Does the physician see his or her role as helping you to improve your health, which includes respecting your decisions and your control over your healthcare? Is the physician interested in getting to the root of any potential medical problems, or merely treating symptoms? Does the physician seek to develop a personal relationship with patients, or only to get through an appointment as quickly as possible? You deserve a physician who respects your decisions and treats you as a person with dignity!
Question 2: How available are you for consultations and how do I best reach you?
This very practical question ensures that you will have ready access to your physician in unexpected circumstances. You want to be reasonable in discerning your needs, but it is obviously better to have the ability to see your physician on short notice. Availability is often a great benefit of physicians in direct primary care or who offer telemedicine.
Question 3: What is your training, medical background, and expertise?
It is important to know whether your physician was trained as an MD, a DO, as a naturopath, a chiropractor, or a homeopath, and whether they have any other medical specialties. This will help you determine if they will be the best option for you and your family.
Question 4: If you refer me to another physician, what principles govern whom I will be referred to?
In other words, you want to make sure that the physician is referring you because that is best for you and not because of financial arrangements that have nothing to do with your health. Unfortunately, many physician’s offices have policies designed to maximize their income through referrals as opposed to what the patient authentically needs.
Question 5: Do you have a personal faith in God, or at least respect the role God plays in the lives of people of faith?
This is important because medicine is not just about the physical, but also the mental and spiritual. Having a physician that wants to treat the whole person and that shares your faith in God can often result in better medical care and health outcomes for you and your family. Not all physicians will share your faith, but if they at least understand and respect it, the process of receiving care and healing will be better.
In seeking answers to these questions, you may or may not find it prudent and appropriate to directly ask the physician about them. You could also speak to his or her staff, or perform online research. Regardless of how you find the answers, doing so will help you to have an easier time finding a physician who shares your faith, provides the best possible care, and has your best interests in mind.