Beyond the Pap Smear
What a Woman Really Wants from a Gynecologist
Dr. Adrienne Lara
Ask a woman how she feels about going in for her annual pap smear and most will reply with some sort of negative comment like “I hate it”, “It always hurts”, “I’d rather have a root canal!”. Why? Is what they say true? Could it be different? Could the comments become more positive? Say, something like: “Oh! I get to have my pap smear”…. “I feel so strong and empowered when I take care of myself.”.. Or “I always learn something new when I see my doctor.” Someday they will. And when they do it will be because they are getting what they really want from a Gynecologist.
And what is it they want?
As a trained expert in Women’s Health, I have had the great responsibility and awesome privilege of caring for women for over 20 years. In 2004 when I closed my OB/GYN practice in Boston, I had the opportunity of starting a formal survey of women asking just that question:
“What does a woman really want from a Gynecologist?” The answers did not vary much in theme. Women want a relationship with their Gyne which to them means that they are seen as more than a pap smear to their doctors. Women want a doctor who listens and shows caring. Women want a doctor who shares knowledge through teaching and who keeps current in medical standards and research. Respect and discretion ranked high as desirable characteristics of a good physician.
An Obstetrician/Gynecologist has a unique position as a specialist. This type of practice allows the OB/GYN to establish a relationship with a woman during childbearing years with routine annual exams and, if and, when a woman is pregnant with an even closer relationship with more frequent visits.
At CELEBRATING WOMEN OB/GYN the patient is made to feel respected, cared for and safe from the moment she is greeted by staff. Our philosophy is that the patient enters a collaborative relationship with the Doctor where they both work towards a mutual goal of patient’s optimal health. This requires that a thorough history is taken, and the patient is asked what her opinion and feelings are concerning her health.
Women have a gift for communication and articulation. If allowed to speak, a female patient will often tell you what is wrong, what they think caused it and how they want it treated! Studies have shown that collaborating with a patient regarding a health plan improves compliance and outcome. It is not unusual for me to tell a patient that “everything you have to say to me is important.”
Women need options, or they feel helpless. A Doctor’s duty is to present all options for treatment of a diagnosis and, then, assist her patient in making the most sound health decision. I like to say, “I went to medical school for you.” In medical education, we spend 12 years learning the answers, I am so happy to be in practice where I can be asked the questions.
Which leads me to what I feel is the most important role I have as a Doctor and, that is, to teach. Ask 10 people what the word “Doctor” means and most will say, “to heal, to cure or to treat”. The word “Doctor” is from Latin etymology and means “to teach”. At Harvard, we were instructed that “a chance to touch is a chance to teach”. Women are not only ready to learn, but they are also hungry for medical knowledge, and medical know-how. It is vital that information not only be imparted, but presented in the terms and ways that a patient can understand. What your 5th-grade History teacher said is true. “Knowledge is power.” The knowledge imparted from their physician empowers women.
Women want a Doctor, who knows about who they are not just what they are. They want a Doctor, who cares, respects and teaches. Doctors are ready and trained to give that type of care to their patients. If you are not receiving that kind of care from your Gynecologist, ask for it.
Phone 805.988.7577 | Fax 805.485.0464
- GYN Well Women Exams
- OB Prenatal Care
- Contraception including Essure
- Minimally Invasive GYN Surgery
- Preconceptual Counseling
- Abnormal Paps
- Medical Aesthetics
Celebrating Women OB\GYN