The Goodness of Good Doctors

by Shawn Davis

There is a beautiful song by Kirk Franklin called “My Life is in Your Hands” that speaks of our lives being in God’s hands and, while I know this is true, sometimes our lives are in our doctor’s hands. 

I owe my health and happiness to God, my commitment to exercise and to a good doctor, Constance Wang.  I really trust her. When I have an appointment with her, I am confident she will take the time to answer all my questions and concerns, and there will be some laughter in between. She is not going to rush me out of the room to get to her next patient.  Every patient feels Dr. Wang’s love and concern for their well-being. Dr. Wang is a good doctor!

Dr. Wang reminds me of my favorite television doctor growing up, Marcus Welby, M.D.!  Dr. Welby was kind and caring – and he always got the diagnosis right! I know the show was far from reality, but I loved Dr. Welby.  Like Dr. Welby, Dr. Wang cares about each and every one of her patients.

Everyone I know who is a patient of Dr. Wang, feels like they are her favorite which is a laugh because – how can they be? – everyone knows I am her favorite! My husband, Gregory is second favorite, my best friend Anita is third and her husband, Pervis, brings up the rear as fourth favorite.   

Anita and Pervis have their appointments with Dr. Wang together. How fun is that? It is a wonder they ever get to the health stuff when there is so much fun to be had. Don’t get me wrong, Dr. Wang does not waste time. She is all business when it comes to health, but she knows how to examine you, find out who got on your nerves today at work, and tell you “your weight is creeping up again” all simultaneously. 

In March of 2013 I had a stroke. Unfortunately, Dr. Wang was out of town at the time and I saw another doctor, who misdiagnosed me and sent me home the first day. Excuse me, I digress, this article is about good doctors!

When Dr. Wang returned and found out I was in the hospital, she immediately came to see me.  She stayed and talked to my family, soothing them during a very scary time in my life. She allowed my children to ask questions and she gave them honest answers. 

I am so grateful for her knowledge, care and concern for me. To this day, I refuse to see another doctor for my appointments.  If Dr.Wang is out of the office, I will wait until she returns.  I don’t care if she is out of the office for two weeks or two months, I will wait, thank you very much. I wouldn’t even care if the late, great Dr. Marcus Welby made a special appearance, I only want to see Dr. Wang!  

I believe everyone deserves to have a doctor they can trust with their life.  Everyone needs a “Dr. Wang” in their family.

When I was little, it was Dr. Blanche Lavizzo. If there are any folks out there who remember Dr. Blanche Lavizzo, let me know by sending me a comment. 

When I got married, Dr. Anita Johnson-Connell was my good  doctor.  Even today, she remains a trusted friend to my family.  

Another good doctor  is Dr. Alvin Thompson, who provided care for me during my twenties and early thirties.  He taught me that eating smaller portions is healthier. He once said to me, “Your mother was overweight, my mother was overweight.” At first I was upset: I wasn’t cool letting nobody talk about my mama! But he talked about his own mama too, so I guess it was okay.  He went on to say, “You don’t need a bowl of ice cream, you can have a tablespoon” and,  “You don’t need a piece of pie, you just need a sliver”.  A sliver?! He never tasted my sweet potato pie!  Oh, Dr. Thompson, if it were THAT easy!

My children were cared for by awesome doctors as well: Dr. Brent Oldham and, later, Dr. Kathleen Graunke.  We loved Dr. Oldham, who was never without his trusty clogs. His exam/appointment times with Kaila and Jerrell were spent updating information in their health charts, as well as finding out how the family was doing.

It would not be fair if I didn’t mention my favorite dentist, Dr. Michael B. Washington. He is the GOAT (greatest of all time) – at least when it comes to dental health care. He provided quality care to ALL of his patients, but I thought he treated my family extra special!  Dr. Washington had a great sense of humor, something every good doctor should have.  He was so funny, and he would make you laugh at the craziest times – like when your mouth was held open by a rubber dam.

Recently I had a conversation with a friend whose wife had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. We were discussing the importance of having a good doctor, and he told me his doctor had just retired, exclaiming, “He didn’t check with me first!” My friend was very pleased with this doctor and the medical care he received and he was not happy about having to find a new one. 

It is important to note that this was a very unique perspective as it came from an African-American male. He was serious about his health and medical care. This was refreshing to hear first-hand.

More African-American males need to realize the importance of good health/medical care. They are the ones who seem to shun going to the doctor the most.  They must not let fear, lack of health insurance or apathy keep them from taking their health more seriously. 

All of us can do better at encouraging those in our sphere of influence to get regular check-ups and seek medical care when something is not right in their bodies.  We have to regularly screen for cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke.

In praise of good doctors, I must mention my obsession with Disney’s Doc McStuffins, a cute African American doctor to stuffed animals and toys.  I fell in love with her after my dear friend, Roshawna, bought me a talking Doc McStuffins doll when I had a stroke. When you squeeze her hand she tells you excitedly, “Time for your check-up.” 

A good doctor will tell you when its “Time for your check-up”.  They will send you reminders and sometimes even annoy you with their persistence.  That is just one thing a good doctor does. What else should you look for in a good doctor?  I am going to give you my short list:

  1. They are kind, caring and honest.
  2. They take their time during appointments, they don’t rush you out of the office.
  3. They are knowledgeable about more than just medicine.
  4. They take time to learn about you and your immediate family.
  5. They have studied your health history and know the facts about you.
  6. They will test you whenever it is necessary and order follow-up tests as required.
  7. They know when immediate tests are necessary.
  8. They give you options.
  9. They give you good referrals for services they do not provide.
  10. They or their nurse will return your call the same day if you have an emergency.
  11. They will fit you into their schedule, if it is necessary.
  12. You can trust them with your life.
  13. They will see others in your immediate family, when possible.
  14. They visit you in the hospital (Thank you Dr. Wang).
  15. They are culturally competent.
  16. They do not patronize you.
  17. They do not act as if they know your body better than you (regardless of their degrees).
  18. They have a sense of humor.

A good doctor is hard to find, but it is worth the search to find one that you can trust your life with. If you have a good doctor, you are truly blessed! If you are still searching, I encourage you to use this list as a starting point. Take good care of yourself – you are special!


One thought on “The Goodness of Good Doctors”

  1. Very true. Unfortunately, there are those who for one reason or another (cost, access, transportation, lack of support, etc), are unable to follow-through with seeing a doctor/receiving medical care. It can be an anxiety-ridden experience…if you let it. However, there are baseline services available. So many times we, as a people, don’t want to “hear bad news”, ‘…so and so was fine, then they went to the doctor, now they aren’t here…” . Although causing pause for consideration, there’s usually more to the story. Perspectives such as these aren’t the best long-term self-care plan. A wise person told me once, “You have to love yourself first”, well, a visit to the doctor, whether a medical or mental health doctor, can be a part of that too.
    A piece of advice, don’t worry until you have something to worry about.