Five Tips for Finding the Right Vascular Doctor

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According to the National Institutes of Health, one in every 20 Americans over the age of 50 has Peripheral Arterial Disease (P.A.D.). While the Internet can be a wealth of information, it can sometimes leave people wondering where to turn for some sound advice and relief. So if you’re facing the diagnosis of a condition affecting your vascular health, here are some tips on the type of health care provider to look for when you want to obtain the best possible treatment for yourself or a loved one.

  1. A Mindful Doctor and Team
    First and foremost, if you’re having trouble booking an appointment, then waiting hours to see the doctor once you’ve got it, perhaps this isn’t the doctor for you. This goes for the office staff too. Are they compassionate? Helpful? Knowledgeable? These are traits that patients should expect from their physicians and the people they employ. Depending on your condition and over the course of your chosen treatment, you may have several appointments wherein you’ll be interacting with a doctor’s staff as much as you will with the physician. Making sure this process is relatively seamless and an overall pleasant experience ensures that you’ll keep your appointments and stick with the course of treatment you’ve been prescribed.
  2. A Good Listener
    What goes hand-in-hand with accessibility is an assessment of the physician’s ability to listen, really listen, to your concerns. If you’ve waited a long time to see this person and they provide you five minutes of time, most of which is spent staring at the chart you’ve written your information on, you may want to consider another provider. As physicians, and depending upon the specialty, they’re a busy bunch. But their most important time spent in a day is with patients. It’s best to go with the doctor who puts down the chart and actively listens to what’s going on with you. You’ll both be better for it.
  3. A Specialized Specialist
    Today, there are many sub-specialty categories in medicine. And with good reason. Studies show that the more focused a doctor is in any particular area of medicine, the more skilled he or she is in that field and the better the outcomes are for his or her patients. When it comes to vascular conditions, and depending on your diagnosis, choosing a doctor who specializes in the treatment of the peripheral arteries is critical. If it is a cardiologist you seek, make sure he or she has specialty training in conditions that affect the peripheral arteries. Additionally, if you’ve been told you need surgery, perhaps you’ll want to seek out a vascular specialist who has additional expertise and focus in minimally-invasive techniques or surgical alternatives for your specific condition. It is important that you seek a vascular specialist who is fellowship trained.
  4. Always the Student
    Whether the physician you’re evaluating went to medical school two or 22 years ago, make sure that you have access to something called a Curriculum Vitae (CV) about him or her. That’s just a fancy term for resume, but it can give you a great picture of how “in touch” that doctor stays with advances in medicine. The techniques one physician was taught for any particular vascular condition 20 years ago have almost certainly advanced since that time and you want to ensure that he or she is keeping pace. The information you want to look for in the CV includes current conferences the physician has attended, any current continuing education they’ve received and better yet – whether they themselves have provided education to other physicians in their field by way of presenting at conferences, conducting research studies and/or authoring journal articles and textbook chapters on vascular conditions and treatments.
  5. An Aggressive Conservative
    It sounds like a contradiction doesn’t it? Someone who takes a conservative approach to things is rarely called aggressive, but in medicine, certainly when it comes to vascular care, this can be just the type of provider you’re looking for. Here’s why: If this is your first visit to a doctor about your concerns, jumping to the conclusion that you need surgery tomorrow should raise some red flags. What you really want is someone who will assess your condition over some period of time, trying the least invasive and disruptive approaches to managing it first. But you also want him or her to stay on top of it too. That’s where the aggressive part comes in. While you first want a physician to employ the most conservative methods in vascular treatment, you should also want them to aggressively monitor progress. If things aren’t getting better or they’re getting worse, you want a doctor who can switch gears for you sooner rather than later.

Now more than ever, patients have come to expect and rightfully deserve a high level of service and care from their physicians. Especially when it comes to caring for your veins, don’t let your standards waver. When you keep expectations high, you find better providers and you also more often hold yourself accountable to following their prescribed treatments because you inherently trust in them. That’s a win-win for you and for the physician.