Looking for a new OB/GYN? Evelyn Nicole Mitchell, MD, an obstetrician/gynecologist from USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, shares a few questions to ask before booking your first appointment.
Choosing the right OB/GYN is one of the most sensitive decisions a patient can make. Evelyn Nicole Mitchell, MD, who practices obstetrics and gynecology at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital, will be among the first to tell you how crucial it is for an OB/GYN and their patient to have an open, mutually respectful relationship.
“I believe communication is key,” Dr. Mitchell says. “It is important to be honest with each other regarding any concern you may have to allow for a genuine relationship to form.”
She also stresses the importance of a physician who can meet your needs with receptiveness, insight and wisdom.
“Above all,” she says, “you want a doctor who is knowledgeable, who can answer your questions confidently and who makes you feel comfortable.”
These factors can be tough to gauge before your first appointment, but asking the right questions beforehand can tell you a lot. Below are five questions that may help determine whether a particular OB/GYN is right for you.
How do you feel about patients whose demographic or basic values are different from your own?
While cultural attitudes have grown more inclusive in the last 50 years, you may still encounter health care providers who harbor certain biases or values that don’t align with who you are. It’s crucial to make sure your doctor will respect your reproductive decisions, sexual history, sexual orientation, religion (or absence thereof), race and gender identity. As Dr. Mitchell puts it, “All physicians should be equipped to provide care regardless of certain demographic factors. It is the art of medicine to be able to adapt and connect with people of different levels of health literacy, backgrounds and values.”
How do you feel about a patient’s level of choice when it comes to family planning, labor and other big decisions?
It’s critical that your OB/GYN respects your wishes, whether you’re expecting or not. If you are pregnant, making sure your doctor is fully onboard with your preferences will play a big part in your labor going as smoothly as possible. One way to ensure this is to ask if the doctor provides a birth plan packet. Dr. Mitchell explains that in her practice, it’s a helpful tool for keeping lines of communication open while staying ready for any contingency. “We believe you should be informed of all your options, and we are here to help guide you through those decisions,” she says.
Are you part of a comprehensive health system that lets you work directly with providers from other departments?
When your OB/GYN is part of an integrated health system, they’ll have full access to collaborate with your other doctors. And it’s especially important to know that your doctor will have plenty of resources available in case you face an unforeseen complication related to your reproductive health.
How do you feel about working with doulas and midwives?
In recent years it’s become increasingly popular to enlist the services of a doula or midwife in addition to an OB/GYN. Dr. Mitchell appreciates both and encourages women to find doctors who would embrace this option (if it’s one the patient wants to explore). “Doulas and midwives are great sources of support and care for your pregnancy,” she explains. If you wish to include a doula or midwife in your birth plan, it’s a good idea to make sure your doctor will be fully onboard and ready to collaborate with them.
What do you recommend for women having trouble with menopause symptoms?
Every woman experiences menopause differently, but symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings and insomnia are common. No matter your age, it’s important to know that your doctor will take your symptoms seriously and be ready with options for you. Dr. Mitchell offers a final tip for people seeking an OB/GYN: “Understand that finding a good doctor-patient relationship can take time, and not every OB/GYN’s approach, personality and practice philosophy may fit what you’re looking for. Be open to finding the best match for you.”