3 “Talk”ing Points to Consider When Choosing a Healthcare Provider

What you’re looking to get out of your relationship with your therapist might be very different from the results you want to see when you meet with your cardiologist. Even with that in mind, there are three questions to ask of any and all healthcare providers, regardless of their field, in order to ensure that the two of you are a good fit. 

#1) Do They Know What They are Talking About?

This might be hard to determine by an online bio, especially now in the age of snazzy Instagram marketing. This is why self-advocacy in healthcare environments is so important! So how do I figure out if they truly know what they are talking about? Before the two of you start work together, make it a habit of asking questions like:

  • What credentials/education/background do you have? (i.e. what makes you qualified to provide this care to me?)
  • How would you describe your approach to care?
  • Have you worked with other individuals with similar demographics to my own? If so, how did those clients fair? If you haven’t, is there a reason why?

Keep in mind, while you want someone that really knows their stuff, they should also be willing to own their knowledge gaps. No one provider can retain 100% of every single topic they studied in grad school. A good provider is knowledgeable in their field. A great provider is knowledgeable in their field AND willing to say “In my current scope, I don’t know enough about *insert random topic here*. Let me research some of the literature and follow back up with you to make sure I’m giving you the most up to date information.”

Reminder: If someone HAS the credentials and background to provide the care that you deserve, they won’t mind being asked about it. But if a provider makes you feel as though any of these topics are off limits, there’s probably a reason for it. Spoiler alert: the reason is that they aren’t the provider for you. This leads us nicely to question number two:

#2) Are They Easy to Talk to?

The act of visiting healthcare providers in itself can be nerve-racking. With that in mind, your provider should do the best they can to minimize (or at the very least, not add to) that feeling. Check in with yourself and your body while in their presence. How?

First, conduct a physical body scan to decode messages from your nervous system. Your somatic cues can be your first check point for if you feel safe in this person’s care. As you’re talking with the provider, consider:

  • Do you feel a sense of hyperarousal, urgency, or fear? 
  • Does your heart rate or speed of breathing increase?
  • Temperature-wise, do you feel warm or even sweaty?
  • Is your body posture open or closed off and tense?

Secondly, audit the emotions you are cognitively experiencing during the appointment:

  • Do you feel any sense of judgment, shame, or stigma?
  • Does it feel like they are talking with you or talking at you?

Reminder: your providers work for you. They should be willing to meet you at your starting point, no matter where that may be, and to ask for feedback from you about what they could do differently. Even if they know what they’re talking about, if they don’t know how to effectively and compassionately communicate that knowledge, they still aren’t the provider for you.

#3) Are They Willing to Talk to the Rest of your Outpatient Team?

Lastly, no one provider can be trained and certified in every facet of wellness (that’s why specialties exist!). Your provider should feel comfortable acknowledging when the conversation is heading out of their scope of practice and then giving you advice for other providers that could be of more help in that area. For instance, at Nourished & Strong, we do a lot of heavy work that feels emotional and potentially therapeutic (hello, food exposure sessions!). But we are also the first to emphasize that we are not licensed therapists and can’t effectively perform all of the duties that come with that title! 

That’s why we love to collaborate care with other members of the clients’ outpatient team and encourage referrals to other modalities that could best serve our clients and supplement the care that we provide. An interdisciplinary approach brings in multiple viewpoints and different lines of expertise. As they say, two (or three or four) heads are better than one. So if a provider seems averse to communicating with the rest of your treatment team, consider that a red flag, and find someone who will!

If you are looking to add a registered dietitian to your care team and are curious to learn more about our approach at Nourished & Strong, book a discovery call to learn more about working with us!


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