Two years ago I relocated and needed to find all new doctors. It was an overwhelming, time consuming and fairly annoying task. I had a somewhat negative perception of this task even before I started looking for new doctors, and because of this, I was completely lazy about this process, opting to just follow the recommendations of my husband’s family. I set up my appointments and just went with the flow, hoping that all would work out well.
I tackled finding a primary care doctor first. The office of the recommend physician was old and outdated. It had a musty smell, was absolutely freezing inside, and the artwork on the walls was bleached out from the sun — a big pet peeve of mine. Things were not off to a good start. The office personnel were very old. They took an exceptionally long time with any small task — simply because their bodies could not move any faster. After waiting an hour and 45 minutes I was finally able to meet with the doctor. She was fine, but honestly not a “wow”. She did not make me feel like a priority, she did not get to know me as a person, nor did she evaluate the concerns I expressed. She only looked at the routine, outward physical signs my body exhibited. I immediately made the decision that I would not be returning. The point of a primary care physician is to have someone who knows you and your body who will be able to monitor you — when you are healthy and also when you are ill. A primary care physician should be someone you value and trust for your overall health. While it was tempting to “settle” for an “okay” physician, I would ultimately have been making a poor life choice. I decided to keep looking.
The second doctor’s office I visited was the recommended gynecologist. The office itself was slightly better than the first – it was not as outdated, and there was not a long wait to see the doctor. However this office was also not up to my standards, and I just didn’t have energy to find a different doctor to refill my prescription. Similar to the first doctor, this doctor also didn’t listen to my concerns. He also down played my observations regarding my body, telling me that they were invalid. Intellectually, I knew this doctor was not providing the level of care and concern I was looking for. However, I did not bother looking for a new doctor. Epic fail.
The third doctor I went to was the dentist. This was like a breath of fresh air. The office was absolutely wonderful. It was clean and aesthetically pleasing, with dimmed lighting, coffee and tea, and a ton of entertainment in the waiting room. Each exam room was spotless. They had blankets in case you were cold, sunglasses in case the lighting was overwhelming, and televisions for the patient to watch while having their teeth cleaned. The staff was warm and welcoming. They took a full history and made me feel like the priority. They explained everything they were going to do in full, provided the reason why they were doing it, and also listened to all of my concerns.
What did I learn from my experiences in finding new doctors? All doctors’ appointments should be as comforting and satisfying as my visit to the dentist. I finally realized this after I had such a wonderful experience. Why did I ever settle for something less? As a side benefit, the dentist’s office was able to refer me to other doctors with similar practices and who put their patients first. Each of the appointments from the referrals felt like magic. My concerns were addressed, and I felt safe in the new doctors’ hands. The importance of feeling comfortable with your doctors is often underrated, despite the importance of the relationship. In short — Make sure you find the right medical professionals for you and your family. It matters. Change cannot happen unless you and your physician work together toward a mutual goal.