Tuesday Tip – How to Choose a Doctor

I am writing this blog post simply because I want to help my readers. I don’t have any real authority on this subject, just some helpful ideas to get you started. I want you to find the best doctor that is available to you and to encourage you not to settle for anything less. I have read hundreds of posts on fibromyalgia social networking sites that express frustration with their doctor.  Dealing with a doctor who questions if your illness is real is emotionally taxing and frustrating. We don’t need that stress on top of being sick.  So, I have put together some ideas to help you change that path. Can it be a lot of work, headache, time, paperwork and insurance hassle? YES! But if you have a doctor who won’t listen and care for your best interest. It’s time to find a new one!

Make a list of what you want in a doctor. Knowledge of fibro? Bedside manner? Listening skills? General Care? Rheumatologist? Knowledge of alternative treatments? Perhaps you are dealing with ailments other than just fibro/cfs. Is a specialist required? What doctors are on your insurance plan? Carve out a list of what is important to you and start searching!

1. The best way to find a good doctor? Start asking friends and family for recommendations. In my online research, this is the number one recommended way of finding a good doctor. Ask your FB friends, people at church, family members, people you work with, etc… See if the same name keeps popping up. Ask these people if they would recommend their doctor and why? The why is important because everyone’s interpretation of “good doctor” will be different. Make sure it fits your definition.

2. Specifically search for a doctor who is knowledgeable about fibromyalgia … or not. (see #3) Call a local fibromyalgia support group and ask them. Do a google search for a fibromyalgia doctor in your area. Use fibromyalgia website resources like endfatigue.com or fmaware.org. These websites have an online feature where you can search for recommended fibromyalgia doctors in your area.

3. If you can’t find a doctor who knows fibro, then just search for one who will care and listen. This may not be for you, but for me, I care less about if my doc is up to date on the latest fibro research (that’s what google is for :-))and more about if he/she will just listen to me and work with me to find my best path to personal wellness. See my post – Be Your Own Health Advocate.

4.. Make a list of possible doctors and take your list of things that are important to you and start making phone calls. Call the office and see if their office staff is friendly, helpful, and easy to deal with. Ask specific questions. Some good ones to ask:
Does this doctor see fibromyalgia patients?
What is his usual course of treatment?
Does this doctor take time with his patients and listen?
Does the doctor believe in natural treatments?
Does this doctor have good bedside manner?
How hard is it to see the doctor?
What are his hospital affiliations?
When I was pregnant with my first child and “shopping” for a pediatrician , I got to go and interview my doctor to be. They wanted my business and were very willing to accommodate. Why do things change so much when you are an adult? It seems they don’t have time for this type of process.

5. Visit the doctor’s office website and glean as much info as you can. Make sure he has the required credentials and licences to be practicing. You can even do online searches now, that list malpractice suits and such.

When I was searching for a doctor, these were the things that I was looking for:
-Knowledgeable about natural remedies or alternative medicine in addition to conventional treatment. I believe that conventional doctors who are open minded to natural treatments are usually more willing to listen to their patients.
-I like women doctors. My kids’ pediatrician is a woman, my OB/GYN is a woman and I wanted my internist to be a woman. That’s just my personal preference.
-Someone who listens, shows empathy, and concern for my well-being. At my appointments, I try to be brief and efficient, but a doctor better act like he/she is listening to me! I need that!
-Accepted on my insurance plan. (although right now it doesn’t matter b/c husband is self-employed and we purchase our own insurance, but no one will insure me b/c of fibro)

I use an internist as my general doctor. I usually only see her for a yearly physical exam. I get yearly blood work, a full exam, and discuss any new things I’ve discovered on the internet about fibro and cfs. She has some ailments of her own and has shared with me her experiences with acupuncture and natural supplements. I love how she listens and offers what she uses personally. I like talking with her. She seems very human. She doesn’t claim any specialty in fibro and often is realistic with me about the future. I accept it. If I want to try meds she is ready to write a script if together we feel that is the right choice for me. She’s nice, she’s a mom, I relate to her, she’s willing to work with me and listen to me. That’s all I need right now. Your needs may be very different.

If you have a doctor you like, count your blessings!!! If you have a doctor that you don’t like, look for a new one! Don’t settle! And if you try a new doctor and it doesn’t work out – keep searching. And pray for wisdom! I want the best for all of you!!! 🙂

Check out this article for more helpful tips. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/30/health/30find.html

Care to share any of your doctor searching experiences with us?  Good or bad?

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3 thoughts on “Tuesday Tip – How to Choose a Doctor

  1. Excellent post and advice. I have had Fibromyalgia for 25 years and have finally found a dr. who listens and tries to help. Hallelujah! It was worth the wait!

  2. Pingback: Tuesday Tip – Vitamins and Natural Supplements | Restoring My Soul

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