Finding a New Doctor
This week I received notice from my doctor that he was leaving town to take another job. So, again, I have to find a new doctor to provide care for my Parkinson’s. I’ve traveled this road before probably a half dozen times and have learned what criteria to use when selecting a doctor.
Feeling comfortable with my doctor
Perhaps the most important criterion, at least for me, is chemistry. Is this doctor someone I feel comfortable with? Someone I feel at ease with and can communicate with? Is there good chemistry between us?
I’ve had doctors before who I did not have good chemistry with and I never felt comfortable around. Fortunately, I’ve also had doctors I had good chemistry with. Doctors who I felt understood me and thus could address my needs.
Movement disorder specialists
Another criterion is whether the doctor has the necessary expertise. First, I want to see a neurologist who is a movement disorder specialist. And since I’ve had DBS, I need someone with experience programming my neurostimulator.
The problem is this is a very limited pool. While you might not have difficulty finding a neurologist, finding one who is a movement disorder specialist can be a challenge. Finding one with experience programming neurostimulators can be especially challenging.
The right expertise
Of course, one could simply rely on their primary care physician for their care but my experience has been that they lack the necessary expertise due to their limited knowledge of new treatments and developments in treating Parkinson’s.
Having a neurologist who is a movement disorder specialist assures me that my doctor has the expertise I seek. For those who’ve had DBS, it is also important that the doctor have the training needed to program the neurostimulator and know what adjustments need to be made over time.
Do they accept my insurance?
The doctor must also accept my insurance plan. I’ve had to change doctors when my health insurance plan changed and the doctor I was seeing was not in my plan’s network. I could have stayed with this doctor but it would have cost me more than I could afford at the time.
Recommendations from others
I also look for recommendations from other people with Parkinson’s. I turn to members of my Rock Steady Boxing class and my local support group to find out more about physicians in the area. I know several people who have had DBS and value their opinions.
However, I am aware that each of us may have different expectations that we bring to the doctor-patient relationship and that what may be a good fit for one person may not be for another. Still, it helps me narrow the search.
What is the clinic culture like?
Finally, I consider the clinic’s culture. Are the staff personable and patient-centric? Is it easy to make an appointment? Do they care about me? I went to one clinic where the doctor came to the waiting room to get their patient as opposed to a nurse. I like that.
It may seem inconsequential to some but to me, it was evident that I was important. Important enough for the doctor to come and walk me to the examination room.
On average, how many times per month do you (or your caregiver) go to the pharmacy?
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