On Getting a Primary Care Doctor

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For over two years now, I’ve only had an endocrinologist. This was an issue a few months ago, when my endocrinologist was on vacation. I called her office for a prescription change, and had to wait because she was on vacation, and she’s the only doctor in her office. I was told to speak to my primary care physician.

Unfortunately, I don’t have one right now.

I moved 2 years ago, and made an appointment with a doctor here shortly after moving. There was a long wait time for the appointment (3 months) and when I finally saw the doctor, it was the strangest, most dissatisfying visit I’ve ever had. So, I didn’t make another appointment with him.

Long Wait Times

There are frequently long wait times here in the United States. It can be very hard to find a doctor accepting new patients. If I were in an urgent situation, I would go to the urgent care clinic (much cheaper than the emergency room!). There is a walk in urgent care facility not too far away. Hopefully they would be able to give me an insulin prescription or whatever I needed, but that’s not the same as being under the care of someone.

Last time I searched for a primary care physician, I only was able to become a patient because I was family of someone else who was seeing that doctor. The doctor wasn’t taking new patients, except for family members. So, having family and also having good insurance allowed me to establish care with that doctor. I used to live in an urban area, where doctors are booked full for months.

Good news, now, though! I live in a more rural area and the medical clinic associated with the local hospital has added a new doctor and even placed an advertisement in the paper that she is accepting patients! I called up, and I have an appointment scheduled for 3 weeks from now. Better than waiting 3 months!

On Family Doctors

Honestly, I’ve been putting off seeing a doctor. I don’t exactly like medical appointments. But, I have diabetes that requires insulin treatment. It’s a serious medical condition. And I’m worried about not being able to get treatment when I need it — what about next time my endocrinologist is on vacation? I also know that I’m getting older and may be more likely to get other medical issues. So, following my favorite piece of advice, I decided to do what I would want a loved one to do — I decided to find a doctor.

It was a general practitioner doctor who first diagnosed my diabetes. I didn’t have a doctor then either, but I knew I needed to see one because I tested my blood glucose and it was VERY HIGH! I fortunately was able to get an appointment and initially the medication she prescribed worked for me. But, when the metformin stopped working, she referred me to an endocrinologist.

I have the feeling that most family physicians don’t know a lot about insulin… And that they see more people with Type 2 Diabetes than Type 1, and therefore may not consider a Type 1 or LADA diagnosis. I do think it’s important to see an endocrinologist because they specialize in hormonal disorders like diabetes. My endocrinologist is very knowledgeable about insulin therapy and insulin pumps, so that has been working out well.

I hope that by having a primary care physician, I will have someone else to go to for health concerns. It is a good next step for taking care of my health. I am also past-due to have an annual physical and other preventive tests.

If you are putting it off…

One thing that may motivate you, is that the first appointment is usually just a “get to know you” appointment, so it won’t be a physical. At least, that’s how it works here. The downside is that the first appointment may cost more since it’s not preventive and also there is a difference in pricing for “new patients.” So the first appointment may not be free (preventive appointments like exams are free in the USA). You may want to ask if that’s a concern for you. If you don’t look forward to the physical exam, you can also ask if the first appointment is an exam. That’s what I asked, and I was told, no, it’s a getting to know you appointment..

I find that the more I know about how the medical system works, the easier navigating it becomes. Hopefully, you’ve learned something from my ramblings here. Have a similar or different experience? Share it below.

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