What I learned about finding the right doctor

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When you start to feel worse, your traditional reaction is to call your doctor. For some, this can be difficult. Taking that first step to asking for help can seem both intimidating and scary at times, but I promise you that once you get over these feelings, this process will start to get easier.

Because I was very young when I first visited a doctor‘s office for my symptoms, my journey started much earlier than most. I first met my pediatrician, then I quickly joined a specialized team of pediatric gastroenterologists. However, for the most part this journey does not start that way and usually involves a visit from an adult primary care physician (PCP) or specialist gastroenterologist.

When I was young, I remember having an exceptional relationship with my healthcare team. Doctors and nurses always went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and spend as much time with me as I needed. Not only that, but they still seemed aware of my symptoms and how we were treating them. before they entered my treatment room. I didn’t have to remind them who I was, what and how we treated, or where we left off with my care on my last visit. They seemed genuinely invested in how I was feeling and showed that they cared in a number of ways.

Once I turned 18, that doctor-patient relationship seemed to fluctuate a bit. Now that I was considered a legal adult, I could no longer see my pediatrician or the pediatric gastroenterologist that I had seen for 10 years. Instead, I had to find an adult specialist who could help me manage my symptoms just like my pediatricians did.

Unfortunately, this has become a more difficult task than I thought. Because my experiences as a young child and teenager seemed so positive, I didn’t know that for others this was not the norm. For some reason, finding a doctor or specialist that I came into contact with was much more difficult as an adult than I thought.

Since that time, I have experienced both the positive and negative sides of the doctor-patient relationship. I’ve had some that seemed like a waste of time and others that made lasting differences. I have had some who questioned my diagnosis, made me feel my symptoms were all ‘in my head’ and spent less than 5 minutes in the room with me after waiting for them for 2 hours.

However, I also had other people who knew me by name, who shared my case with their pre-med students, and who constantly looked at new research and new treatments in development because they knew that my case did not fit the norm.

Through these experiences, here is what I learned:

  • There is nothing wrong with visiting different doctors, clinics, and specialists until you find one that’s right for you.
  • No matter how many college degrees someone has, you always know what’s best for your body. Please do not allow anyone to bully you into trying any treatment, medication, etc., that you are not comfortable with.
  • Always do your own research and go to any appointment with ideas and questions related to the treatment of your condition.
  • Be aware that not all symptoms or illnesses manifest in the same way. You are unique and your case should be treated as such.
  • There are many different treatment options for your condition. Know that there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to being involved in your own treatment choices.
  • You are your best lawyer. Please never give up the fight for better answers or better care.

Whatever your experiences in doctor-patient relationships, never give up seeking that connection – that positive experience – that we all seek. You can have a great relationship with the right doctor as long as you are willing to find them.


Photo credit: Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / DigitalVision via Getty Images

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