I’ve had the same family medicine physician for years. Doctor S was a friend of my husband’s family and a provider for many of them 20+ years ago. My last child was born at home with a midwife and she was definitely to be our last so at the time it seemed logical to jump on the same bandwagon as many in our family when it came to medical care after the need for OB care ended.
In fact, Dr. S was the physician who, during a pap screen, found my cervical cancer. Even though I was referred and treated by a gynecological oncologist, Dr. S was right alongside me when I went in for the hysterectomy. I like this man. I believe he respects me, as well as respecting my voice in medical decisions. I respect him as well. Although I am not a ‘doctor’ person – meaning that I go in for routine checks almost annually, I don’t typically run to see a physician unless something very serious seems to be going on. Dr. S always greets me with a hug. He always asks about the extended family. Apparently most of them stopped going to his practice years ago, but he always wants to know how they are.
He’s a good physician, although he has a horrible habit of mumbling while talking incredibly fast. Needless to say, I find myself saying excuse me, or pardon me, or even just What(?) quite often when I have an appointment with him. He is also always behind. Always. I refuse to schedule anything but a morning appointment, and usually try for the first one of the day. I have learned that if you don’t get one of the first few time slots you will be waiting a long time. You will wait in reception. You will wait in the treatment room. You will wait almost always 45 minutes to an hour past your appointed time before you have the opportunity to see him come into the room for his initial greeting.
I worked in healthcare. I know and acknowledge that medical practices and clinics get behind. Unexpected treatments arise. Difficult patients make it hard to stay on time. Add to that a sociable doctor and keeping to appointment times becomes futile.
We have recently changed insurance coverage. The group practice that Dr. S belongs to is not part of the new plan. We can remain with the practice however if we choose knowing that financially we would be responsible for a larger portion out-of-pocket. Most, if not all of that, would be covered with supplemental coverage through my husbands retired military plan.
The point of this entire back story? I feel like this is the perfect opportunity to make a change in my care provider. It’s difficult to explain, especially when I truly have nothing bad to say about this physician. I can’t articulate why, but the decision to change providers has been something that I’ve been contemplating for some time now. I think, more than anything, I would like a female provider. Ideally I would welcome an established female provider, someone who is close to my age and who may have the ability to identify with many of the changes that are occurring as I age.
My dilemma – do I stay with Dr. S, who provides good care, out of loyalty? Do I find a female provider within his associated large practice? This group has five locations I believe. Or, do I search completely away from this group and into a new practice that is within our network?
There appears to be a number of female providers within the current practice that have many of the qualifications that I find important to my value system surrounding patient care…at least on paper. Those who are accepting new patients list characteristics that they find important as providers that seem to coincide with my needs and views. How does one really know though, without ‘doctor shopping?’ I don’t relish the idea that a new provider just won’t click with me as a patient. Plus, it would be within the same practice, although a different location, that Dr. S belongs to.
It seems even more difficult to step into the process of finding a provider within the new network. They don’t list bios at all. Some give educational background, but even those are few. Going in that direction seems to guarantee a lengthy shopping experience trying to find a like-minded provider to work with.
So readers, I am asking for advice. Have any of you been in this position? How did you work through the process? Do you think I should just stick with what I know – meaning Dr. S? Have you ever changed providers and found yourself in a worse position?