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How to find a good rheumatologist?

Finding the right rheumatologist often isn't a direct line. For those of you with good rheumatologists, what tips or things to look for in a rheumatologist search can you share with others?

  1. My biggest recommendation is finding a doctor that treats the patient and symptoms, and not the test results. Bloodwork results are in ranges, and each person has different symptoms in their personal range. The second a doc tell you "your labs are fine" when you are trying to solve symptoms, run (or carefully walk) yourself out the door. It can take time, but it is worth it all around.

    Also, I would recommend creating a specialist "team". Endocrinologist, Orthopedist, etc. RA is part autoimmune and part physiological. Lining up docs that can help in all corners early will help in the long run, and save time when there comes a day that you will need them!

    1. Hi . Thanks for sharing. I couldn't help but think of this article from our contributor Kelly Mack (full disclosure - I'm her husband) where she talks about how her doctor starts every appointment by asking how she is doing - before looking at the computer or test results: The numbers won't always match and how a patient feels is what is important - they know their body. What you say about having a team and coordinating care absolutely resonates. Best, Richard ( Team)

  2. The "green flags" as as I like to call them would be to find a rheumatologist who listens and is patient. Someone who treats you like a human being, and can empathize with you on what you have to do as the patient i.e. take injections, pills, appointments, surgeries if ever needed, trial and error. My rheumatologist once told me my options but then asked me, "What do you want to do?" Also, someone who understands that RA is more than just RA- there's a ton of underlying factors at play. Not all rheumatologists are open to you seeing integrative physicians and so on, but it's important they respect that and encourage it for healing too. As the disease is very multi-faceted and complex, a good doctor realizes that and doesn't put limitations on a person to be in the driver's seat of their care too. Hope that helps and good luck! -Effie, team member

    1. I just switched Rheumatologist and can't believe what I put up for eight years with the previous doctor. Unfortunately, even though I am in Philadelphia suburbs, doctors are in short supply and the wait time for appointments are long. I lucked out, I called and made an appointment for the new doctor, and they called me back with a cancelation, so I saw her the next day. I almost started crying when I talked to her, because the previous dr. would spend 5 minutes with me, yell at me if I asked a question. I had a very bad flare up and he seemed reluctant to change my treatment. When I got my labs back from the new doctor, my inflammation was very high, but the previous guy would never do inflammation tests. Anyway, I am so very happy now, I feel much better with new treatments and not having the stress of facing a doctor who seems like he just wants to retire.

      1. , I am so very glad you have a good rheumatologist now! It sounds like your old doctor should have retired quite awhile ago. :/

        I'm glad you're feeling better, being listened to, and getting the care you deserve!

        Best, Erin, Team Member.

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