Medicine today is being practiced at a faster pace than ever before and that fact has certainly gotten a lot of press attention lately. Publications as diverse as USA Today, The Washington Post, The NY Times, Medscape Business of Medicine and other medical journals and trade publications—are all talking about the trend toward shorter patient visits.
Researchers have found that doctors spend as little as 13 minutes in the office with a typical patient. When you’re in need of hand surgery in the NJ area, we suggest you choose a dedicated hand specialist who bucks this unfortunate trend.
Our deeper message is: after you have verified your NJ hand surgeon’s licensure and qualifications (such as documented surgical training and hospital privileges)—the most important quality to seek is dedication.
The Distinctive Hallmark of Top NJ Hand Specialists: Dedication
Dedication is what makes one experienced, well educated and talented hand surgeon better than all the others—and makes him or her the perfect hand surgeon for you. Dedication can be difficult to measure and can be a subjective decision.
Still, this is crucial to a successful outcome from your hand surgery. You need a doctor who is well trained, experienced—and also one that you trust. A dedicated surgeon and hand specialist will put your needs first.
This quality matters most, after the required academic and experience-related qualifications. One way to objectively measure dedication is to note how long your hand specialist in NJ spends with you at your consultation. Looking at it another way…
A True Hand Specialist Plans Surgery Around You
This is not to say that all surgeons who are rushed are also uncaring, but hurrying through a patient visit does give you an indication that you are not being seen as an individual.
If a hand surgeon spends only 10 minutes with you at your consultation, which should include: examining your hand, discussing medical history and diagnosis, developing a treatment plan and explaining it all to you clearly—you’re being short-changed.
This is not a dedicated surgeon, at least not on that particular day. If you experience this, even if the hand surgeon’s other qualifications are impeccable—find another surgeon.
A dedicated NJ hand specialist, as we define it at Cohen/Winters, sees you as a individual and designs a unique treatment plan to fit your needs and your condition. Although hand specialists are hand surgeons by definition—they don’t default to surgery as the solution to every hand problem, nor do they rush you into making a decision about your treatment/surgery.
Dedicated hand specialists in NJ care about your individual welfare and want to understand your specific needs. This means that even if you have the same surgery as another patient (such as MP joint arthroplasty, meaning knuckle joint replacement), your procedure is customized to your particular situation.
This includes your age, your occupation, the recreational activities that are important to you, which treatments you may have tried in the past, your other health conditions and overall health, etc. This is the hand specialist you want: the surgeon who plans your surgery around you specifically. That can’t be done in 10 minutes.
The Best Hand Specialist for You: The One You Trust
We are not saying that you should automatically choose the NJ hand surgeon who spends the most time with you at your consultation—although this is a good indicator that you’ve found a dedicated surgeon. You must also give weight in your decision-making to another intangible gut feeling: trust.
You must choose the surgeon you trust to complete your hand surgery successfully and see you through you recovery with care and attention. How can you determine trustworthiness and dedication in your hand specialist? There’s no set rule, but you can watch for:
Do you feel comfortable talking to the hand specialist? Does he or she answer your questions fully and clearly? Has the NJ hand surgeon explained the risks and benefits of the hand surgery that is planned? Has he or she explained what will take place during the surgery?
Investment in Patient Success
Has the northern NJ hand specialist asked you questions about your history and your goals for surgery? Is he or she interested in you as a person, or do you fell like generic patient #365? Is the surgeon interested in learning what type of improvement you are hoping for from your hand surgery?
Has the surgeon explained what you can expect after the surgery is completed? How long will recovery take? What results can you realistically expect once healed?
Do you feel the NJ surgeon will do his or her best for you, or do you feel like you’ve been rushed, cut off, talked at, not listened to? If you’ve experienced these negative impressions, then it won’t matter how skilled your surgeon is—he or she may not use those skills fully to your benefit.
The disinterested surgeon may do for you the same surgery he or she does on all their similar patients, and finish quickly to get on to the next. You may not get the benefit of all the surgeon’s skill—unless you also look for integrity and that feeling of trust.
Objective Skills: Check Your Surgeon’s Background
Important skills and attributes to look for in a hand specialist include:
Reconstructive training: For the best anatomical knowledge of the hand and the deepest insight into its proper, optimal function, choose a hand specialist with reconstructive experience. You can check your surgeon’s website, on the About Us page or Bio section or the surgeon may have posted his or her CV (resume) showing their background details.
Plastic surgery training: Choose a hand surgeon from an aesthetic practice. Plastic surgeons understand the best methods to ensure the hand looks as good as it functions with small hidden scars, if any. After all, your hands are part of your communication mechanism and always on show. Your hands play a big part in greeting people you first meet or are meeting again. The hands must look as good as possible in order to function well.
Research tips: You can check for board certification in plastic and general surgery with the state of NJ Consumer Affairs Dept., CertificationMatters.org or the American Board of Plastic Surgery. If you do not find your surgeon listed, ask the surgeon or their office about this. In a few cases, the certified last name may be different from the surgeon’s website, due to marriage, for example. The first name may differ from the certified name if a shorter or longer version (that the surgeon prefers to go by) is listed on the surgeon’s website, such as Ben vs. Benjamin, Rick vs. Richard, etc.
Excellent medical school and residency: The importance of quality medical education, along with experience, is becoming increasingly recognized. Look for a NJ hand specialist who attended an elite medical school on the East Coast and one who has had recent continuing education in the latest hand surgery concepts. (If you can, find out where they were in their graduating class.) Skill, education and experience are the key ingredients for an excellent surgical outcome.
Focus on hand surgery: Don’t choose a facial plastic surgeon for hand surgery. Look on the practice website and make sure there is a separate hand surgery section, showing a concentration on hand surgery. Your ideal surgeon has plastic surgery training with a special interest in and focus on surgery of the hand.
Meticulous surgical technique and a delicate touch: The hand is made up of 27 small-to-tiny bones that must work together precisely to achieve the dexterity you need to conduct your normal daily activities, your job, your recreational activity and artistic pursuits. Surgeons who operate with a precise and gentle manner produce the best results. Even small mistakes or slightly rough treatment of the muscles, cartilage, joints, tendons, nerves, blood vessels and bones of the hand can cause damage, affect the look of your hands and lengthen your healing process needlessly.
But how can you tell if your surgeon has the right touch? You can tell something about the technique your surgeon uses as you are discussing the surgery with the hand specialist. The surgeon should, as mentioned, take time to describe the surgical procedure and approach that he or she will use. Ask about complications and about typical healing times. In addition, you may want to ask to speak with a recent patient to get an idea of their overall hand surgery experience with this particular doctor.
Hospital surgical privileges: This gives you another layer of assurance of your surgeon’s abilities and history of patient care. A university hospital is a preferred spot for surgical privileges. Even though most surgeries are done as an outpatient in office settings or surgery centers, look for privileges at a well-known hospital. Our surgeons maintain privileges at Hackensack University Medical Center here in NJ.
Choose an Expert Partner for Hand Surgery Success
The hand specialist you choose will be your expert partner, helping you to improve your hand function and your life. That’s how we define our role as hand specialists, aesthetic and reconstructive surgeons, at Cohen/Winters in Bergen County.
We feel you should never settle for less than full dedication when selecting your hand specialist. If you’d like to learn what hand surgery may accomplish for you, please contact us for a consultation.