How to Know When to Switch Rheumatologists

It's been a hectic few weeks. As anyone with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) knows, your rheumatologist is your first line of defense when your disease is causing you trouble.

They are there for your medications, your sore and aching joints, random pains that seem to pop out of nowhere, and more. They are supposed to be there for you to support and help you the best that they can.

But lately, I've been feeling that my rheumatologist is not supplying that role for me anymore.

I think it's time for a switch

After my last few appointments with my rheumatologist, I've started to think that it's time to change rheumatologists.

It's not that my rheumatologist has done something personal to hurt me or is purposefully ignoring me.

However, I feel that my rheumatologist is no longer listening to me and is not putting my health first or, at least, giving me the support and tools needed for me to put my health first.

Little emphasis on the state of my RA

In the last few appointments I've had, I have felt that I was just another patient to my rheumatologist. Things felt too transactional.

There was no emphasis on how my disease was progressing, no mention of how I was doing with my disease, no room for talking about how I wanted my medication to change, and more.

There was also no mention of bloodwork. I haven't done bloodwork for my rheumatologist since last year. How am I supposed to know how my disease is progressing (if it's getting worse, better, staying the same, etc.) if I don't have the concrete evidence through bloodwork?

It just feels that my rheumatologist isn't listening to me nor caring about me or my disease.

Lack of privacy during visits

To add to that, each time that I've been to my rheumatologist lately, there has been a new training rheumatologist or medical school resident. I live near a medical school, so I guess this should be expected, but this never happened before.

Residents that sit in

One thing I don't like about having a resident-in-training is that my disease and my body are very personal.

I hate talking about it with my rheumatologist at times, and I certainly don't want to have to divulge all of this sensitive information to someone that I don't even know and won't continue to know (since, by the next time I'm going to the rheumatologist, they probably won't be there).

Has anyone else experienced this? How have you handled this situation? To me, I don't want the resident to be there, but maybe that is just me.

Changing rheumatologists is difficult

All in all, this has been a pretty frustrating situation for me. What's more frustrating is that changing rheumatologists is such a difficult process.

Not only do you have to find a new doctor, but you have to:

  • Work with that new office to transfer your records,
  • Work with your insurance to make sure they're in-network
  • If you're on a biologic, you have to transfer that request over and get it re-approved by your insurance, and more.

I'm sure there are steps I'm forgetting, but the point is that this process is cumbersome, particularly for individuals who already have enough to deal with in taking care of their chronic illness!

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