Being an IVF specialist is very satisfying, and we enjoy helping couples to complete their family ! However, we do expect our patients to do their homework , and our ideal patients are intelligent people who understand what we are doing for them - both our abilities and our limitations. We prefer these patients because they:
- listen to us carefully and ask pertinent questions
- participate in their treatment and take informed decisions
- understand that we are working towards their success
- work in tandem with us and contribute with good ideas
- are patient and understand that results take time
- take our advice seriously and respect that we walk the talk
While there's a lot of information about the criteria which patients should use to identify a good IVF doctor, there's very little on what patients can do in order to be come good patients ! I asked our expert patient, Manju, to write about this.
If you are told that you need IVF to conceive,you naturally tend to spend a lot of time and energy in finding the best IVF doctor. This is because you know that finding a good IVF doctor will help you in getting the best treatment possible. You want a good IVF doctor who runs a competent clinic; respects you and your needs; will be intelligent enough to tailor the treatment according to your individual requirements ; and is empathetic enough to provide emotional support during your time of distress.
This is quite reasonable, but are you also willing to put in at least half the effort which you took to find a good doctor in becoming a good IVF patient ? Many of us still naively believe that, once we find a good doctor , our responsibility in our treatment gets over , and the doctor will take care of all our needs. This is not true; getting the best treatment possible and the ease with which you can go through an IVF treatment rests in your hands too. Just like you expect your doctor to be competent, a knowledgeable patient is a good IVF doctor's delight ! If you learn to be an ideal patient you can reap the best of your doctor and treatment. An ideal patient makes an IVF doctor's life much easier. Remember, good patients beget good doctors , and vice versa !
How many of you go to watch a movie without reading its review ? If you are willing to do your homework before watching a movie, isn't it wise to do your homework when undergoing one of the most important and expensive medical treatments you will need ? It is your responsibility to understand what your treatment is all about , and how it works. The internet is a boon for patients who want to learn more and there are many authentic websites and blogs written by IVF specialists and IVF patients which will help you to get reliable information. If you become a well-informed patient, you no longer have to be dependent on your doctor for taking treatment decisions; you can work as an intelligent partner with your doctor. This will increase your confidence levels, protect you from medical fraud ( such as unnecessary tests and unproven treatments !) ; and will also act as a shield to protect you against medical errors. If you are a knowledgeable patient your doctor is much more likely to respect you and treat you well.
Many patients tend to think that they are not intelligent enough to understand medical science. This is why they are afraid to ask their doctor questions, and prefer to bottle these up, thinking that their questions are stupid. The truth is that you do not need special talents to understand how your body works - you just need to be curious and ask questions. Never be afraid to ask questions; it is the duty of your doctor to explain in terms which you can understand , and clarify all your doubts. When talking to your doctor , make sure that you ask relevant questions , and this can only be achieved if you have done your homework - don't expect him to spoonfeed you ! When you understand the science behind your treatment , you will be able to understand what your doctor can do for you , and what he cannot. Having realistic expectations of the treatment process will protect you from emotional breakdown if the cycle fails; and will also safe-guard your doctor from your unreasonable wrath if the treatment does not give the expected result.
Every patient wants her doctor to remember her as a person. You want him to take special interest in your treatment and work extra hard for your success. This can happen only when you work together with your doctor , and show an intelligent interest in what he is doing for you. You should understand that medical science is a rapidly growing field , and there are many different treatment options. When you remain passive, you put all the responsibility on your doctor and he is forced to decide what is best for you. Even though a good doctor works for your best interests, many a time they are biased too ( sometimes without even being aware of their personal prejudices). They may end up selecting a cookie cutter , generic treatment plan for you, without customizing it to your special circumstances, because this is easier for your doctor , and saves him valuable time. However, this puts you at a risk of receiving sub-optimal treatment. On the other hand, when you understand the niceties of your treatment , you can delight your doctor with your input and ideas, and he is much more likely to understand your needs better. When you contribute to your treatment decisions in an intelligent way, you are more likely to be able to formulate a treatment plan which suits you best - after all, your doctor is not a mind-reader and does not know what your personal preferences are.
A well-informed patient understands that his doctor works for her best interests. If you are totally clueless about your treatment , you will not be able to appreciate what your doctor does for you. It's only when you appreciate his technical skills and expertise that you will develop respect for him as a professional . Otherwise, you tend to treat him as a person who works for you only because of the money you pay him . A good doctor-patient relationship is important for a good treatment outcome. Like any relationship, a doctor-patient relationship is also a two-way street and it tends to blossom beautifully only when there is mutual trust and respect. A good patient understands this and is ready to do what he can do to make the relationship beneficial for both.
A good IVF patient is patient! She understands that IVF treatment might need more than few attempts to be successful. She doesn't get disheartened, suspicious and bitter after a single IVF failure. She tends to value and respect her doctor's advice and act accordingly. This will help her to remain resilient and carry on with the treatment until she finds success.
In short a good IVF patient has the following characteristics :
- She has the passion to learn about her treatment
- She actively participates in her treatment decisions
- She respects her doctor and strives hard to maintain a good doctor-patient relationship
- She engages the doctor by providing inputs
- She is patient and does not expect that the only acceptable result is a baby !
- She allows her doctor to earn her trust and follows his advice
Successful IVF treatment needs not only good doctors, but good patients too ! Once you select a competent doctor, you need to work on making yourself competent as well. This will pay rich dividends !
The equation is simple - Good IVF doctor plus Good IVF patient = High chances of IVF success !
This is an excerpt from our forthcoming, book, The Expert Patient's Guide to IVF. This being authored by our expert patient, Manju and me.
Her blog is at www.myselfishgenes.blogspot.com