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5 Things to Consider When Picking an ENT

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ENT Doctor

Selecting any doctor is a very personal decision. Picking an otolaryngologist (ENT) is not any different than picking other health care professionals. You want a skilled professional who has the experience and expertise to treat your condition and the bedside manner that makes you comfortable. In addition to the obvious things like the types of insurance accepted; here are some other considerations.

The age of the patient

The age of the patient is important. Pediatric otolaryngology is a defined specialty within the field of otolaryngology. If the patient is an infant or small child you will want to check to see if the ENT has been trained in pediatric otolaryngology. If the ENT may not have specialized in pediatrics but may have extensive experience treating children.

There is no defined field of geriatric otolaryngology, but if you are a senior citizen you want to know if the ENT has experience treating elderly patients. Some ear and hearing conditions are more common in older adults, and you want an ENT that keeps up-to-date on these issues.

Office locations and hours

No matter the age of the patient, no one wants to drive long distances to see the ENT. This is especially true if you live in areas with harsh weather. Many ENTs associate and this gives them the ability to maintain multiple offices in multiple locations. Also check office hours and after-hours availability. Do they have extended or weekend hours? Do their hours of availability suit your needs? 

Areas of specialty

While all ENTs receive training in conditions of the ears, nose and throat, some ENTs further specialize. In addition to pediatric otolaryngology, they may specialize in seven other areas. These include:

  • Allergy
  • Facial Reconstructive Plastic Surgery
  • Head and Neck
  • Laryngology
  • Otology
  • Rhinology

If you have a problem with allergies, you may not want to pick and ENT that specialized in reconstructive surgery. 

In addition, some ENTs have training as an audiologist or associate with audiologists.

Credentials and experience

The internet is a wonderful thing. You can check the credentials and experience of doctors online using a variety of resources. The National Committee for Quality Assurance is a nonprofit organization that maintains a database of physicians that have met certain standards of care. Castle Connolly maintains a doctor disciplinary research feature that allows you to search medical disciplinary records in all 50 states.

Gender

You should consider if the gender of the ENT matters to you. Some people only feel comfortable with healthcare professionals that are the same gender, others prefer treatment by someone of the opposite gender and some people don’t care at all. The training that ENTs receive is not different based on gender. Gender consideration is more about how you feel than how the ENT was trained or performs treatment. Some conditions require frank discussions and you should consider how you feel discussing intimate details of your life and bodily functions with males or females.

In addition to these five considerations, make sure to check that the ENT you select accepts the insurance you have and the hospital or surgical center they utilize is in your network.