QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Men

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.

Question

I'm new to this area, so how should I choose a physician? Though I am not ill at present, I feel I should take my health more seriously.

Answer

Too few men, men who would scrutinize a bank or business prospect rigorously, take the same trouble over selecting their main link to the world of medical care, their personal physician. So your question is one we should all pause over.

First, you could ask the men amongst your colleagues and neighbors about the local doctors. A hearty recommendation is a good start. Check out the hospitals -- do they carry men's health-related posters? Is there a well men's clinic? Ask to speak to a doctor in the practice, especially if you can identify one with a special interest in men's health.

Though I'll use the male pronoun here, some men will prefer a woman physician. It's what you're comfortable with that matters here! It's a time to check out his approachability; you're the client, remember.

Arrange to see him during a quiet time of the day, so he won't be rushed. If you're asked some searching questions, and the doc looks you in the eye and you feel relaxed, its signals a good future relationship.

Get to know your doctor BEFORE you need that middle of the night call-out! Do you feel free to raise issues that are troubling you? If you feel tense, ask yourself if it's him or you. Don't be afraid to express your fears and worries, they are an important source of the history your doctor will base his assessment on.

If you have a particular need, voice it early. For example, you may need a doctor who is gay-friendly or has specialist skills, such as sports injury. You may be a lone parent in a new area, seeking a doctor for your children too, but recognize that their needs may be better met by a different partner in the same practice.

A man's physician is also his counsellor. Bear this in mind as you select a doctor who will treat you as a whole man, mind, body and spirit. Give him a chance, but if it doesn't work out, don't be afraid to courteously change physicians.

3/5/98

Trevor Harvey, M.Ed combines lecturing in the School of Health at the University of East Anglia, with writing and counselling, and is based in Norwich, England. After a 12 year naval career, including the Falklands War, he became editorial board member/series advisor with The British Journal of Health Care Management and founder of the men's group AMICUS. He focused on health-related men's issues, particularly the way men negotiate personal transition through relationship crises, and is currently studying the management of information overload. Whenever possible, he combines his passion for photography with hill walking, and piloting his boat on the local lakes and rivers of eastern England.

 

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