Finding a doctor that’s right for you

  • Check out websites
  • Ask people you trust 
  • Try out several doctors
  • Think about what you value most in a doctor and then try out several doctors 
  • Don’t settle for the first available appointment with a mediocre doctor
  • Wait for an appointment with the best doctor
  • Use google, yelp reviews and Facebook reviews in your decisions 
  • Use a connection with a doctor’s current patient or some who works in the doctor’s office to get an appointment 

Finding a primary care physician or a specialist for a certain condition may be more challenging than you think. Just because you don’t need a new doctor now doesn’t mean you may not need one in the future. Moving, retirement and unforeseen events can necessitate finding a new doctor. 

We moved from Atlanta to Athens, Georgia in 2013. The difference between finding a doctor in Atlanta and Athens was startling. In Atlanta, we had a wonderful primary care doctor in our community until a flood in 2009. We watched the evening news in horror as our favorite doctor took Atlanta reporters on a tour of the damage to his clinic. My husband and I said to each other in jest, “look I think I see our medical records floating by.” The practice did not reopen and we had to find new primary care doctors. It was relatively easy to find new doctors in Atlanta accepting new patients. 

When we moved to Athens in 2013, we had a rude awakening. As a pastor, I asked congregants and coworkers about first finding pediatrians and discovered there was a good 3 month wait for the most reputable practice. The next practice was only accepting babies. Finally we found a practice that was accepting new patients after months of searching and I think even a few trips back to Atlanta in desperation for maintenance medication for the kids. It was unbelievable. Then the practice was bought by a local hospital system and the doctors all moved overnight to another location. 

As adults, we found a similar if not worse scenario. There was one reputable practice accepting patients at one of their two locations and only a couple of their doctors were accepting patients. I went to one for two years and finally couldn’t take the lack of respect and understanding of medical conditions and lab testing. Tests were performed that were decades old. I went in with complaints and was told how expensive the blood work was to run. I said fine I have insurance and money and am happy to pay. But the doctor was not especially excited by the prospect, I think perhaps because she didn’t know exactly what she was ordering. Another time I went in after hitting my tailbone on an end table which is humorous, but not when I am in dire pain and have been unable to sit or lie down for several days. They laughed at me. The final straw was the lack of concern of joint pain, fever and fatigue for months. 

I finally had enough and in desperation pleaded on Facebook with people in Athens for a doctor. Someone in my congregation called the doctor I currently see to get me an appointment. I actually had several kind souls respond with doctors that were accepting patients. 

I have discovered this is how it works in a small town. You have to know someone to get in to a medical practice. 

Also do not be afraid to try out doctors. I tried out three different practices that were recommended from Facebook friends. They were not bad experiences. I ultimately went with the doctor I thought would listen to me the best and not talk down to me. 

In my time as a pastor, I have heard people in the churches I serve feel trapped with a certain doctor. YOU ARE NOT TRAPPED. YOU CAN LEAVE A DOCTOR AT ANY TIME and SEEK TREATMENT ELSEWHERE WITHOUT ANY REASON! You have the power to do this!

You are not bound to a certain doctor. Please don’t stay with a doctor you don’t trust or that doesn’t listen to your concerns or one that rushes through an exam. Your health is too valuable. You are too valuable!

In health and wholeness,

Beth D.

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