Chosing Doctor: Young, Old, Male or Female?

We were talking at work about how many people have set ideas about selecting a doctor.

Some women insist on having only a woman as a doctor (I guess I can understand that).

I personally find a young(er) dentist better than an older one, maybe because I (unfairly?) assume they are more up-to-date with modern dental technology.

However, if I were having major surgery, I would probably want an older doctor who has performed the surgery 1000’s of times rather than a younger doctor who has only performed the surgery a few 100 times.

Do you think age and/or gender is a valid reason to choose, or not choose a doctor?

Do you have any preferences?

When I first heard about this idea in the UK (an ide held by both parties) I immediately thought how stupid it was. Surely it doesn’t matter who your doctor is. We are supposed to have faith that anyone who is a qualified doctor will be just as capable as anyone else. So what we really want is to go to the nearest hospital and get treated by the most quickly available doctor.

And if we’re talking about GPs, we want the one who’s easiest to get to. probably the closest geographically.
Same goes for choosing hospitals and speciallist schools. I can’t see the average UK family even DREAMING of being wealthy enough to go for a school twice as far away because they have a specialism.

I (as a 23 year old woman), prefer to have a female doctor, particularly for gynecological stuff. It’s not that I would be embarassed by having a male doctor down there (hell, I let a male piercer down there!). Mostly , it’s that I want a doctor who can empathise with me over fertility issues and such. No male doctor has ever had menstrual cramps, though he may be a great doctor. I wouldn’t refuse to go to a man if it was the only choice though.

Also, I prefer someone younger, though that’s not as important. I think I just like to have somebody closer to my own generation to talk about such personal things with.

For other types of medical treatment, I really dont’ have a preference. Neither do I have a preference for the age/sex of my dentist.

Age and gender don’t matter to me. However, there’s two types of doctors, I think. Those that view it as a job and those that think they’re god. If I get even a hint of the latter I change doctors.

I prefer to have a gay doctor, not because I think straight doctors are incompetent (my mother happens to be a straight doctor) but because I don’t have to explain everything. Sort of tamaraqueenofgoths’s point.

Doesn’t matter as long as they listen. I hate doctors who know more about my body than I do and like to inform me how I’m feeling, etc.

Our family doctor is female because my wife prefers that. Doesn’t matter to me.

Hmmm. Let’s see…I chose my ophthalmologist because he has a lot of experience with glaucoma, which happens to run in my family. He doesn’t have much of a bedside manner, and his office tends to always run late, but I only see him once a year and I always get a first-thing-in-the-morning appointment, so that’s fine.

I just lucked out with my dentist – my mother chose him while I was in college. He was young then, just starting out, working in someone else’s office. I stay with him because he’s very good, loves dentistry, loves to answer my questions, is funny, and because after 30 years, we know each other.

I go to a male gynecologist. I’ve been going to him for at least 25 years. I like him. He’s warm and kind and a good doctor. But when I needed a hysterectomy, and he wanted to do an abdoninal surgery, I went to another surgeon for a second opinion. I knew I still needed the surgery, but this man had had extensive training in laparoscopic surgery (which my gynecologist does, but to a lesser extent) and he was able to do my hysterectomy laparoscopically. No big incision! (And yes, I still have to have Pap smears after a hysterectomy.)

I’ve been going to my family practitioner for about 13 years. I happened to read his profile in the newspaper when I had recently moved back from a year in another state. My previous local doctor, a lovely man from Ireland, had retired. This doctor had spent 2 years in the Peace Corps. I liked him right away. He’s very good, up on all the latest things, warm, knows how to listen, and care, and laugh.

I work in a hospital and I know doctors aren’t all alike. I don’t want a doctor who thinks he’s God and all others are scum. I want a doctor who is competent, interested in medicine, and interested in my wellbeing. I want a doctor who will listen to my questions and give me honest, complete answers, and who realizes I am intelligent enough to understand his answers.

From things I have heard in the hospital, I know that sometimes the older, more experienced doctors are sometimes less open to new procedures and new instruments. They sometimes use old methods that take longer – meaning the patient is under anesthesia longer. They are more likely to think they are God. because that was the culture for a long time, and such things change slowly. And, alas, they are more likely to retire and leave you looking for a new doctor.

We have:

GP - female middle aged
kids dr - female, young
knee surgeon - male, young
shrink for BP - female, middle aged
shrink for migraines - male, middle aged
gyno - male, middle aged
We are very happy with all of our Drs and did not chose them for their age or gender, but because they are good Drs who listen as well as advise.

Oh, do people still choose their Doctors based on age and/or gender?
Sounds like a real throwback to me.

Call me a throwback.

When I was a kid, I had a female GP. That was fine until I (a male) hit puberty. I then refused to see her.

My doctor now is a male. I’d be uncomfortable with a female doctor for anything that involved me stripping to my underwear or farther. Why would I complicate a medical visit with having do deal with something that makes me uncomfortable?

What’s really important is to have a doctor that listens to you and respects you. Before I found my current doctor I had the following exchange:

Bad Doctor - "I’m seeing you for a minor knee injury, but I look at your chart and see that you smoke and drink alcohol. (Starts into extended lecture about the evils of smoking and drinking).

Whistlepig, cutting him off: “Yeah, and you should lose 40 pounds and get rid of that ugly shirt. I’m 40 years old, quit the lecture and fix my freakin’ knee.”

They moved me to my current physician, who respects the fact that as a former EMT who has been reviewing medical records for 20 years, I have an above-average knowledge when I come in with a problem. And all he’s said about smoking and drinking is: “If you want to quit smoking, I’ll write you a scrip for whatever method you want to try.”

Young or old doesn’t bother me. In fact, they usually bring any training doctors in on my exams because I present information well and can give good feedback on the trainee’s “bedside manner”.


But many female doctors have never had menstrual cramps either. I’ve heard some real horror stories about female docs who insist that their patients are exaggerating about menstrual cramps and PMS because they themselves have either never had them or have only had them mildly, and since they’re female too, they feel they can extrapolate from their own experience.

Having docs that have had your illnesses and injuries can be helpful, but it’s kind of a double edge sword.

Me, I don’t have any preference for male/female or young/old. While I do find some evidence of the idea that female docs are more likely to listen more to the patient, I have run into enough female docs who are exactly opposite that I don’t bother to seek out females. And I find that while some older docs can get very set in their ways, others become very open-minded. Maybe they have seen so many patients and so many changes over the years that they know that you just can’t generalize, and that today’s “truth” may well be out the window tomorrow.

He has to be old, male, and Wilford Brimley.

I prefer African American male doctors, but this is based on experience.

I have this thing where I think that in the course of an examination, especially when there’s some kind of pain syndrome involved, that the doctor should actually touch the patient. I’ve become even more sensitive to the issue since I started school for massage therapy. If the doctor doesn’t acutally touch me (and I mean more than just the little bit of poking around a sore area) I start to wonder how he/she can make any kind of diagnoses. My back is killing me, dammit, lay me out on the table and actually feel it, check for swelling, muscle spasms, knots, whatever. Then tell me what you think is wrong.

Anyway, it’s been my (admittedly limited) experience that African American doctors use their hands more, they touch more, and more gently. The white guys poke a little with their fingertips “is this tender, what about this”. The black guys actually put their hands on me, gave the painful area a good going over before they make their diagnosis. They also seem more open to alternative types of therapies- one black doctor I saw had been trained in Oriental as well as Western medicine. I found him in a free clinic during a time when I was hopelessly underemployed. He had retired from regular practice to work with indigent people because he though it was his mission in life to help the people who needed it most. He also taught me the basics of Korean hand acupuncture so I could use it on myself, and in times since, I’ve relieved pain for a lot of people using it.

I wouldn’t write off black women doctors, I just haven’t had any experience with them. I have found that white women doctors are no more or less caring/nurturing than their male counterparts.

I much prefer a female gynecologist, just because I feel more comfortable discussing such issues with another woman. Aside from that, I don’t give a damn as long as they listen to me and I feel like they’re competetent. (The last female GP I went to not only didn’t listen, she gave me a clean bill of health without ever laying a stethoscope on me. :eek: )

Here’s a dirty little secret–there is almost nothing in the physical exam that has been shown to be beneficial as part of a periodic health visit in an adult.

Nearly every part of the physical exam has a “C” rating from the Clinical Preventive Services Task Force, meaning that it offers no demonstrable benefit or risk to the patient’s health (possibly due to insufficient evidence). The exceptions–height and weight, blood pressure, and visual impairment testing in the elderly. Several maneuvers are associated with demonstrable harm in the long run–mostly palpation for tumors, since feeling a lump often means the patient will be sent for further diagnostic measures, like surgical exploration, with measurable complication rates.

In short, there’s no evidence to show that the doctor laying a hand on you does you any good in the long run. But we still do it, because it makes both us and the patients feel like we’ve done something.

Oh, sure, no harm really done by not ausculting my chest. It’s just alarming that you would tell someone you’ve got a heart murmur and they wouldn’t bother to have a quick listen so they could monitor it for changes.

So does that mean that the other aspect of the exam – talking to the patient, asking questions and listening (not just hearing, but absorbing and understanding) their answers is the beneficial part of a periodic health visit?

Because this is the part where I’ve had problems with a string of doctors. Like whistlepig’s bad doctor, I came across one who blew off my complaint. I was told that my month-long bout with laryngitis and a sore throat were “nothing” and I should gargle with salt water without the doctor ever having a tongue depressor in his hand. (I was actually raging with strep.) He then went on to lecture me about blood pressure and diabetes problems and how I should be “closely monitored” for both even though I’m a healthy, normal weight, have no family history of either, have no personal history of problems with either, exercise regularly and so on, but I’m black and over 40, so I should apparently be ragingly sick any day now. :rolleyes:

My family doctor is an elderly male. There is never less than a two and a half hour wait to see him, but I’ll put up with it, because he does home visits and makes sure that he sees any of his patients who are in hospital, as well as being very thorough when I do fnally get to see him. He is also a pediatrician (with three children), so he was my daughter’s doctor when she was younger, and the home visits were invaluable then: he once came out at 11 o’clock at night to investigate her stomach pains. When she hit puberty, I changed her to the female doctor who treats my parents (she specializes in various of my father’s ailments) because I thought she would be more comfortable. We live in a small town, and it’s not hard to choose a good doctor: their reputation precedes them.

My ob/gyno was a young woman. She insisted that I be informed about every procedure and test that I had, and I appreciated it.

One of my worst experience with a doctor was when my own doctor was on holiday, and his (young, male) replacement insisted that my very bad bout of 'flu (complete with hacking cough) was depression. He gave me a box of pills, gazed blankly at my two year old daughter, and told me they would probably make me drowsy. A week later he was called back to see me, was outraged that I felt drowsiness was unacceptable around a small child, waited for me to stop hacking my lungs up, still insisted I was depressed, and gave me another box of pills. Finally my own doctor was called back from his holiday, and I ended up having penicillin injections twice a day for the next couple of weeks.

The very worst was when I went to the emergency room with a severe allergic reaction, and through my swelling throat had to insist to the doctor that I was not normally bright red in the face, nor did I usually talk through my nose. He told me irritably that I looked perfectly fine to him, and reluctantly yanked my shirt up to look at my back, at which point he went into a complete panic.

Eek! I have social anxiety, and one of the symptoms is that I get hysterical (literally) in the face of criticism, especially on health issues. I’d have been either hyperventilating on the floor or flooding the office with tears if that happened to me…

It’s getting better now that I’m on medication for anxiety, but choosing a doctor or dentist is a big deal for me because I’ve always been so scared of them. I have a woman doctor that Mr Neville went to first, and reassured me that she would not criticize me, before I could go. My dentist is male, and I made sure to ask the receptionist how he was with scaredy-patients before going there.