How to Have Great Appointments and a Healthy Relationship
We’re back with Part 2 of this series on how to find a good doctor when you’re dealing with chronic medical conditions (such as an autoimmune or pain disease state).
In Part 1, we talked all about problems you might have had with medical professionals in the past, how to address those problems, and start to be more constructive about finding a health care provider that works with you to get you what you need. We also discussed questions to ask yourself and information to provide when you’re getting ready to find a new doctor.
If you haven’t read Part 1, I highly recommend reading that before going on to read the rest of this article…it’ll make much more sense in the correct order!
In part 2 here, we’re going to get into specifics on how to narrow your list of health care providers and how to appropriately find out which doctors have the greatest chance of working for you without having to step into an office.
So let’s get into it!
Step 2: Narrow Your List of Health Care Providers
Finding good doctors out of all the ones available can seem daunting and very tricky. Fortunately, there are several ways to start narrowing your choices…and with the internet being what it is, it’s easier than ever to get this done quickly.
There are several directory of pain doctors that you can use to get you started. None of them are complete in any way but they can be a good starting point. These 4 are the ones I’ve had the best luck with:
- Primal Docs
- Functional Medicine Doctor Directory
- US News Health Directory
- Health Grade Pain Medicine Directory
These don’t necessarily represent the “best” doctors in the area, but these lists are compiled for doctors who are putting themselves out there are being interested in ancestral/functional/chronic pain medicine…so this already helps you get the conversation going.
In addition to the lists, there are several things to do to find knowledgeable medical professionals in your area.
- Ask your other health care providers (physical therapists, home nurses, massage therapists, etc) to give you some recommendations because they most likely work closely with an MD that they like and trust.
- I’ve had good luck with trolling forums (for me, chronic pain forums) for medical professionals in your area. You can do this by typing your state into the search bar and seeing what comes up in discussion. There are some massive forums out there, like this one for pain.
- The last way to go is by word of mouth. In addition to talking with people you already know, use the comments section in this post to ask questions! Hopefully, we can all work together to give recommendations and share success stories.
Step 3: Call them.
If they can’t be reached personally, ask to speak with their nurse (if there are many, ask to speak to the one who has been working for him/her the longest).
Some sample questions you can ask ahead of time are:
1. How often do they see patients with this illness?
2. Check to see if they do the kind of things that you’re looking for. For example, here’s a list of thing I’ve wanted to know when looking for doctors: does he/she do injections for nerve blocks? If not, do they have someone that they refer to?
3. When you’re their patient, how often are you usually seen? How long are the appointments? And how long is the waiting list on average?
Chances are, you’re going to really get on their bad side if you keep them on the phone too long asking unnecessary questions and/or generally badgering them. Iron out the most important questions that you absolutely need to know to make the appointment worthwhile.
If you look at the questions I’ve asked above: there are only 3 questions but they get at the heart of exactly what I’m looking for in my appointment. I can get through these questions in about 5 minutes max and that’s a good goal to shoot for, in my opinion.
Basically, you’re trying to understand if he/she will be able to help you with what you are looking for (also, you’ll also see what their nurse thinks of them which is a huge indicator of the type of person that they are). You can even verbalize that exact thing on the outset of the conversation; getting the nurse to understand why you’re calling and showing him/her that you’re not just a high-maintenance patient will really help your case and get you the information you need.
Always be as polite and honest as possible. It seems to be that being open makes a huge difference in how you will be treated. If you’re nervous, you can say so. If you’ve been having a hard time with something, you don’t have to pretend that you’re strong. I think it is easy to forget that they are people on the other end of the line. And for all the ones that give medical professionals a bad reputation, most of those people are there because they want to help.
Also remember that they get mistreated by rude and pushy patients day in and day out so cut them some slack as well…chances are they’ll open up to you when they see that you’re not there to give them a hard time.
Finishing the Loop
If you’re gotten to Step 3 and are happy with what you’ve found, you’ve really increased your chances of having a productive appointment! If you’re not happy with something, it’s time to redo Step 3 with another doctor that you found in Step 1. Even though this can be discouraging, remember that the research you just did on someone saved you a ton of time, mental angst, and money. And that is something that we can all be very happy about!
A good way to tell that you’ve hit the jackpot for finding a doctor is when you both agree on the goals for you. It’s also when you feel supported enough to sit back and let them take the reins on your behalf.
If you find yourself feeling the need to micromanage every move, it’s going to take a bit of soul searching to figure out if it’s because you’re having a hard time relaxing into this healthier relationship or if the partnership simply isn’t a good fit for you.
This is a system that has been working for me quite well and I hope that you’ve found this 2 part series helpful!
In order to help you all out even more, I’ve created a free summary pdf of this material and an accompanying WORKSHEET that are easy to print off and keep with you as you work through these steps.
But I am always interested in hearing what has worked for other people so feel free to leave any thoughts/comments/questions that you might have in the comments section below.
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