No matter if you’re trying to find a primary care doctor or a specialist, finding the right doctor is a daunting task. In fact, it’s almost like searching for your soulmate. You’re looking for someone whom you are going to trust with your life.
You need someone who will listen and respect what you say. You need someone who will make time for you and who will become intimately familiar with your family history.
Need I say it again? Finding the right doctor is daunting.
The chore may seem trivial to the healthy young. Those who have battled disease or other illness (chronic or not) know otherwise. Having a doctor who won’t listen can be incredibly frustrating and even start to wear on your mental health. You’ll feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle alone.
Related: 7 Tips to Boost Your Mental Health, About
For awhile, I was getting bounced around from specialist to specialist. Every 12 months Universities get a new round of fellows (medical specialists in training) and every 12 months, I’d have to start my story at the beginning.
So for those of who have been newly diagnosed or are searching for a new specialist to manage your chronic illness, I’ve put together a list of things to prepare before embarking on your mission to find the right doctor.
I cannot stress this enough. The doctor/patient relationship is a partnership. You may not have over ten years of training and know medical jargon, but you’ve known your own body for X amount of years and you know when something is wrong with it.
Think about what you want in your doctor/patient relationship.
Whether it’s someone who warms the stethoscope before listening to your heart or someone who knows the names of all of your dogs, it’s important to identify what makes you feel comfortable. I’m not going to lie: you’re going to have to discuss intimate details about your life. Bowel movements are always a possible topic. Make sure you feel comfortable opening up to your doctor about this.
If you’re in the lucky group who basically just sees the doctor once a year for an annual check up, you may not have had a chance to really think about this. But, while you’re thinking about the information that the doctor gave you, think about how he or she delivered it. Were you reassured? Did you feel alone? Did he answer questions?
Make sure you have important medical records with you.
So you’re doctor promised that he would fax them over. You’re new doctor’s office said they would request them. Don’t trust them. They may have had the best of intentions, but sometimes – for whatever reason – the records don’t make it to the chart in the new office. These things happen!
That’s why I suggest taking the important ones with you. Your tests confirming you diagnosis and medications are two important ones. If you’re still searching for a diagnosis, take your tests that confirmed that your diagnosis wasn’t X,Y, or Z.
I have a binder with 7 years of medical records in it. I usually take my biopsy results that confirm my diagnosis and the list I’ve compiled with all of the medications that I’ve ever taken as treatments for my bad knees.
Do your research.
Guys and gals, WebMD is not a reputable source. Don’t believe me? Check out this Buzzfeed article, “19 Tweets You’ll Totally Get if you Google Your Symptoms.” Sure, it may be hyperbole, but it’s got some basis in truth.
Me: hey what’s this weird lump?
WebMD: could be cancer.
Me: it’s a raisin stuck to my elbow…
WebMD: you have two weeks.
— Felix Felicis (@LuckoftheDraw86) December 2, 2015
I’m not saying don’t search your symptoms. I’m saying search responsibly. Your doctor is a trained professional. Take your time and be able to have an explanation of why you think this may be a good diagnosis.
Your research may not be the answer to all of your problems, but it will allow you to have an educated discussion about your symptoms with your doctor. Your research may trigger a list of differential diagnosis about your condition and your doctor could end up helping diagnosis yourself!
I would go door to door to tell the world if I could: your relationship with your doctor is a partnership. Your doctor should be listening to you as much as you should listen to your doctor. You both have an interesting perspective on the situation. Don’t be afraid to educate yourself, ask questions, and try out a new doctor if you don’t feel comfortable with the first one you try.
Take your time. Find the right doctor for you.