Doctors, Decisions, and That Gut Feeling
Advocating for ourselves is becoming increasingly important. Dealing with restrictions from insurance companies, hefty copays, and trying to secure convenient appointments combine to create one gigantic headache for many patients every day. Some of these obstacles can’t be helped, but there is one thing none of us should ever have to face - a physician with whom we are not comfortable. Every once in awhile, however, it happens. When it does, it becomes necessary to ask ourselves if changing doctors is worth the hassle.
Finding the right dermatologist is worth it
I can answer that for you very simply from my own experience. Yes, it is always worth it. Changing doctors is absolutely worth the time it takes to move records, fill out the mountain of new-patient paperwork, and get acquainted with a new personality in a new setting. It’s especially worth it if you have a gut feeling that is desperately pushing you toward the door. If I have learned nothing else over the years, I have learned that my gut doesn’t lie.
Seeing a new dermatologist
Several years ago, following a melanoma excision, my dermatologist began an extended sabbatical. I was scheduled with another dermatologist in the same clinic. He was new to the facility, and I had never seen him before. However, I trusted that he was as capable and qualified as any other in the clinic. I headed into the appointment expecting the typical skin check and could foresee no issues.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
A terrible skin check experience
From the very moment he walked into the exam room, I was immediately uneasy. There is definitely something to be said for bedside manner, and he had none. Zero. There was no attempt to connect with me as a patient, review my past skin cancer diagnoses, or address my current concerns. I was basically horrified. He barely spoke to me at all, and never once looked me in the eye.
Little time to spare
The entire skin check, which normally takes a good 20-30 minutes or more, took maybe 5 minutes of his time. Having had numerous regular dermatologist appointments following my melanoma, I knew what to expect from a typical visit. This was NOT it. My dermatologist took her time, pored over my skin, took out her little light, and stopped regularly to examine spots that she considered worth a closer look. He did none of that. I mean, come on, I know my skin. I know exactly where my doctor always paused. This doctor? Nope. He was buzzing right through with no slowing down and no second looks. It was painfully obvious I was just another box to check off his list.
Interations with the nurses
Not to be overlooked are a doctor’s interactions with the nurses in a clinic. This doctor? Let’s put it this way - I don’t see how the nurses faced him on a daily basis. During my abbreviated skin check, he was curt with the nurse who assisted him. I wasn’t the only one with whom he never made eye contact. I got the distinct feeling she was as uncomfortable for me as I was for her during that visit. It should never have been that way for either of us nor should it be the case for you.
He was the only doctor available when I called back for my next regular checkup, but I opted for a different doctor in the clinic and never saw him again. Not too long after that, his name was no longer listed on the door. Not surprising.
Trust your gut
If you aren’t comfortable with your doctor, change doctors. When you don’t feel you are receiving the care you require, look for someone who will provide it. Should your gut give a tug while you are being seen, heed its warning. And if your doctor generally makes you feel less than valued as both a patient in need and as a person deserving of answers, run. Change isn’t always comfortable or easy, but when your health is concerned, take the plunge. So, the answer is yes. The hassle is assuredly worth it.
How often do you speak to your family members about skin cancer?