Finding the Right Neurosurgeon
by Kellie Robinson & Mike Williams
Excerpts of this article are published with the permission of the Hydrocephalus Association. The full text of this article first appeared in the Hydrocephalus Association Newsletter, Fall 2000.
Having confidence in your neurosurgeon's background and expertise to effectively deal with the complexities of hydrocephalus is just one element in a solid and lasting relationship. You want a doctor who is interested in dealing with hydrocephalus, and everything that goes along with it. You want a neurosurgeon who will be motivated enough to remain current on the latest technologies/techniques to effectively treat the condition. A doctor who cares enough to stay motivated and learn more is more likely to provide you with quality care.
The psychological environment also plays a vital role in your mental health and recovery. A successful doctor-patient relationship is attainable when both patient and neurosurgeon respect each other.
When discussing surgeries and follow-up care, it is important to look for a neurosurgeon who will closely monitor your condition. You need to feel comfortable in discussing your questions and concerns. You want any quality-of-life issues you have listened to and taken seriously. Finding the right balance of medical and communication skills is key to a successful relationship. Here are some communication skills you should look for in a neurosurgeon:
- Uses language that is easy to understand.
- Communicates effectively and compassionately.
- Answers all of your questions openly and honestly.
- Respects your values and beliefs.
- Establishes a good rapport with you.
Not everyone has the same idea of what makes a good relationship with a neurosurgeon. While some people might like to have an authoritative neurosurgeon who is direct and to the point, others might not like that sort of treatment. Just like us, each neurosurgeon has a different personality. If you are not comfortable with your neurosurgeon, but like the care you're receiving, you should first try to talk through the communication problem with your neurosurgeon before jumping ship and trying to find another doctor. Your neurosurgeon may not realize there's a communication gap unless you point it out to her. However, if you do think it is time to change neurosurgeons, you should stay with the current neurosurgeon while seeking out another.
Keep in mind that finding the right doctor is a key part of your health care. You deserve to be treated well. Think of yourself not only as a patient but also as a customer. You have to be satisfied with your care, and neurosurgeons need to understand their patients' needs and should take the time to get to know their patients well. After all, your relationship with your neurosurgeon is one that will hopefully last a very long time.