Man sits by a fishing hole with a rod, a tackle bucket with a stethoscope behind him

Fishing For A New Doctor

I’ve been going through doctors like candy. My original oncologist left the insurer. The next doctor, whom I liked very much, retired. My current doctor seems nice but I only met with her once, then she went on maternity leave. Now my upcoming appointment will be with her PA. Then my family doctor of more than 30 years retired.

Finding a doctor is like fishing in a muddy lake; you have no idea what’s down there. You hope to catch a trout but might just as easily pull up an old boot.

Finding a new doctor

So here are some ideas to help you through the murky waters when jigging for a new doctor.

Check with your insurance provider

Not all doctors will be on your health plan. Most insurance providers have a list of doctors they accept. This will be the starting point of your search.

Ask your family doctor

It was my family doctor who first discovered I had leukemia and he recommended three oncologists, even telling me their personalizes and how they communicate with their patients.

Ask a fellow cancer patient

When my first doctor was leaving, I asked my cousin, who has the same form of leukemia that I have (CLL), who his doctor was. I wish I’d consulted him earlier. It turned out his doctor was a much better fit for me than my first one.

Do a little subtle digging

After my second doctor retired, the clinic had two other doctors to choose from. When I called the person at the front desk I asked for her opinion about them. Basically, I said, “This might seem like an odd question, but what is your opinion of the two? I don’t mean their abilities, I’m wondering more about their personalities. Which one would you say is the easiest to get along with?”

I thought she’d be taken aback by such a question, but instead, she said they were both excellent doctors then told me which one she liked the most. Not everyone is going to be so honest, but it’s worth a try.

Have a “get to know you” appointment

Your first meeting with a doctor will probably be a regular checkup. Politely let him/her know that this is also an opportunity for you to get to know each other and you are still deciding which doctor you want. It’s okay to ask questions.

Take inventory

After your first appointment, take an inventory of your impressions. Assess in your own mind what you felt about the meeting. Did you feel comfortable and at ease? Did he answer all of your questions, or did he seem rushed, in a hurry to get to his next patient? Did he use clear terms that you could understand? Do you feel like he wanted to know you? Was he respectful?

Follow your instincts

After all this, you will have a gut feeling about your new doctor. Go with it. In most cases, when faced with murky waters, intuition is your best fishing buddy.

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