Finding a New Doctor: The Switch From Pediatricians to Adult Docs
For young adults, transitioning from seeing their pediatrician to finding an adult doctor can be a difficult task. Forced to navigate through a sea (or a barren desert) of referrals, Yellow Pages and Internet searches, the question looms: “How do I find a good doctor?”
Finding a Doctor
The first key is to evaluate what type of doctor you need. A doctor of internal medicine (“internist”) is an adult equivalent of a pediatrician. He or she should be your go-to for most common illnesses, afflictions or check-ups. An internist should also help to refer you to specialists.
The reality of modern medicine, however, is that internists are growing scarcer. Cite what you will — overwork, crowded offices and/or hospitals, uncooperative insurance or medical companies – but internists don’t look after patients the way they used to. While some relatively healthy men and women may be happy with their internists, those with special concerns (seemingly the majority) are often bypassing internists and relying on specialists instead.
To find either an internist or specialist, ask any of your former doctors for referrals. Ask friends and family. If you get a name but aren’t sure the doctor is right for you (wrong specialty or location), you can even telephone their office, explain your situation and see if they have another doctor’s name instead.
Meeting with a new doctor doesn’t mean you have to stick with him or her. If you dislike their approach or disagree with their evaluation, don’t “tough it out” to see if things get better. Giving someone a “fair shot” is one thing, but you do not owe anything to the doctor beyond showing up for the appointment on time. You should feel comfortable discussing any concerns with your doctor.
You have the option of switching to another doctor within the same office, or another office and/or hospital entirely.
What to Do
So you’ve found a doctor – hooray! But the transition isn’t yet complete. It’ll take awhile for a new doctor to really get to know you, but here are a few things to keep in mind as you take your health into your own hands:
- You should receive a confirmation call (or letter) regarding your appointment. If you do not, inquire.
- Start building your own medical file. Get a notebook and write down every time you have an appointment – the date, doctor’s name and the reason. In this file, keep copies of all test results. Young people tend to move locations a lot, and this will not only jog your own memory, but it is imperative for a new doctor to see what you’ve been through.
- Also save all receipts, including prescriptions and parking. Important for tax reasons: Parking fees as well as transportation (gas mileage) can be written off.
- Type a list of your medical history to give to any new doctor. Make sure you go through it step by step with him or her (don’t let the office simply stick it into their file.)
- Speak up about any tests you know you need. A new doctor has known you only several months, you’ve known yourself your entire life.
- Establish with your doctor the best way to reach him or her. Options include calling the office, voice-messaging or e-mail. Discuss the approximate amount of time in which to expect a reply.
- Finally, make sure you bring a list of any medications being taken along with your medical history and ask questions on the spot, before the doctor leaves the office.
Who knew choosing a doctor is so easy, but you know what isn’t easy, choosing the right supplement plan for Medicare. We aren’t going to get into the details here but we will definitely do that in the next post or two, so stick around, in the meantime if you want to read more, check out a post called how to choose the best Medicare supplement plans 2018.