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Rheumatologist or PCP

I am just wondering if most of you rely only on your rheumatologist or if you also get help from a pcp. Sometimes it takes weeks or even months to get an appointment with a rheumatologist. I am having a really bad flair right now. I was considering getting an appointment with my pcp to see if they will help me until my rheumatologist appointment much later in the month.

  1. My first attempt would be my Rheum. If they can’t schedule me in a reasonable time, I’d take the first appointment and ask to be put on the waiting list. In the mean time, I’d see my PCP. You may need the follow up with Rheum, so having that on the books is good. It’s possible your PCP could consult with your Rheum. The PCP may help with a stop gap measure, such as Prednisone. The PCP could also order labs that can be sent to your Rheum and may affect when they will see you or consult over the phone. It is important to take flares seriously. I hope you get the care you need! Jo

    1. Hi . This is a great question and, unfortunately, I don't feel like I have a great answer in that it really depends on your relationship with and, to be honest, what you think about the level of knowledge of these doctors. For example: my wife, Kelly Mack (a contributor here), has a rheumatologist she has known and trusted for years. In contrast, she has had a number of GPs leave in the last few years and now has what basically is rotating residents that the hospital system is providing. This has created a situation where she doesn't really have faith in the GPs to understand her RA. If a situation or issue is directly RA related her rheumatologist is definitely her first point of contact, but she has the luxury of a rheumatologist who is incredibly responsive to her messages. Can you reach your rheumatologist via phone or email? Will they do a telehealth appointment to see if they can assess current needs in a more timely manner? Also, is there a chance that, if you see the GP and they have a rheumatology question, that your rheumatologist would be responsive to questions from them? Sometimes, some medical care is better than none and, unfortunately, given the difficulty of seeing a rheumatologist, that may be seeing the GP - only you can determine if the current situation warrants going that route. Wishing you the best and please feel free to keep us posted on how you are doing. Richard ( Team)

      1. the rheumatologist is new so I don’t feel like I can contact them before my first appointment. I did get an appointment with the NP in my GP’s practice. Hopefully they can help!

      2. Hi . Oh yes, completely understand with the new doctor and glad you managed to get the appointment with the NP. One thought I did have is that if you would like to try to move up your rheumatologist appointment you could check if they have a cancellation list. I know a number of community members have been able to get a quicker appointment this way. Best, Richard ( Team)

    2. Usually, rheumatology offices also have nurse practitioners who can see patients when the MDs are too busy.

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