Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lessons Learned: Choosing Doctors, PAs and other Members of your "Medical Team"

This week's post is a tad late, but I think fate dictated I am sitting down this morning to write it instead of Sunday. Why? Because I spent the last couple of days visiting with different types of health care professionals. Each play a role in my care, and each of them left me with a different opinion of their usefulness in my care.

My first stop was my primary care physician. I've seen her for a little over a year and a half.  She's seen me in numerous different stages of being sick and has helped me get through most of it unscathed. She acknowledges my educational background by saying things like "as a clinician you know" when discussing her thought process with me and also acknowledges that I know my body best by asking me what I think needs to be done. I appreciate that, and it makes my life simpler because I can be open with her.
  • Lesson: Find a primary care physician who listens to you, respects you as a person, and lets you play an active role in your health care.
My next stop was seeing a new registered dietitian (RD) at our local hospital. I've seen five RDs in my life and I have found that their usefulness is limited because they don't know a lot about chronic illnesses outside of diabetes, celiac, IBS and some of the inflammatory bowel disorders. What I had forgotten is that it is nice to discuss my diet with someone who knows nutrition inside and out. They may not know what I can tolerate, but they can give suggestions on balancing carbs, fat, protein and finding ways of sneaking in nutrients I may have overlooked. Given the fact I am having blood glucose issues her ideas on combining carbs and protein in each mini-meal was helpful.
  • Lesson: Even if you have worked with an RD before, don't be afraid to see a new one (or go back to your old one) and bounce ideas off them. That is what they are there for, and you will both learn something.
What was next? Seeing the physician assistant at my neurologist's office. I have to admit I don't like the neurologist I've seen there very much. It isn't that he is a bad physician, it is more our communication skills together. Seeing the PA was refreshing. Why? She's female. I do much better with female health care providers. I ended up seeing one of the other neurologists since the PA wanted them to assess me too, and since I was relaxed instead of uptight it went okay.
  • Lesson: Pay attention to what gender of doctor you work with better. Maybe it doesn't matter, but if it does you might be able to develop a better working relationship with your provider.
My last stop was at the pharmacy. Like a lot of you I visit the pharmacy often because it is nearly impossible to get my all my medications refilled at the same time. That means I know the pharmacy staff well and they care how I am doing. I was picking up a new med to prevent migraines and the pharmacist and I got into a good discussion about migraine control. It was a refreshing to be able to spend time discussing the medication as well as other techniques to reduce them.
  • Lesson: Find a pharmacy that sees you as a person and not just another prescription. Pharmacists have a lot of information they can share with you, if they have time to do so.

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