Finding a primary care physician

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by swirlingflight, Jan 15, 2021.

  1. swirlingflight

    swirlingflight inane analysis and story spinning is my passion

    My history with seeking medical aid is spotty at best, and I haven't had a pcp, or gone anywhere for annual checkups, in a few years. And that last time was only for about a year, and then prior to that was several other years without.

    I have health insurance, through work, so that's something.

    I'm looking for possible PCPs through the health insurance's site for the in-network doctors, making note of the ones who are
    - reasonably near me
    - have something indicating they do primary care
    - a note saying they are accepting new patients at this time
    - who have either a Family Practice or Internal Medicine specialization, as it seems like family practice = generalized lifelong care and internal medicine = specialization in chronic condition management

    And then I'm taking those names and checking them against stuff like WebMD for reviews of what previous patients have said about them, hoping for people who've established themselves as willing to answer questions

    I think that's a pretty good system, I plan to narrow it to a couple likely options and then (ugh) call them.

    What else do I want to prepare, before I call any of them? (I am in the USA)

    I imagine I want to have an outline of my ongoing issues and concerns, with 1 or 2 main concerns as the reason I've started this search after so long.

    I also imagine I want to make sure the place I previously went to still has my medical files, so that it can transfer them to whatever place I sign up with. And I think there's a mystery bill on my credit report that might be from the last place, so I don't know if they might refuse until that's paid...?

    How do get doctor when anxiety about calls, and exec function about all the preparation, on top of pandemic busyness likely disrupting their usual quality of care, make it hard
  2. swirlingflight

    swirlingflight inane analysis and story spinning is my passion


    I am giving one of the options on the list a shot!
    Called to ask if they're accepting new patients, lucked out with a yes, gave them the basic information and made an appointment.
    Gonna do some HEALTH in 2021
    • Winner x 6
    • Witnessed x 1
  3. swirlingflight

    swirlingflight inane analysis and story spinning is my passion

    To update this thread: did the thing, talked with the person. It was neither a terrible tragedy/disaster nor a enlightening miracle, it was just a thing.

    Some stresses included:
    • Making the appointment,
    • Finding the right building (online directions tricked me)
    • Going in to fill out family history (as I could recall) and personal history and other paperwork,
    • The initial talking w/ medical assistant and getting base info established
    • The waiting for anyone to come in, listening to the sounds in other rooms and wondering if I'd been forgotten
    • The next introductions, and describing the general things of What Are My Current Concerns, and making basic plans for what to do next
    • The social dread of conversations with a stranger.
      • "am I boring her,"
      • "why is she looking at the computer and making distracted 'uh huh' noises instead of asking detailed questions,"
      • "okay now I guess she is being pulled away to a more important patient that's fine that's okay, oh she's back"
      • "I should probably repeat that point to make sure she heard it"
    What we decided to do next was to schedule labs (bloodwork & urine sample) for the usual major concerns, and then meet again to discuss the results

    Getting the labs done meant another round of stresses:
    • Picking a place to go to, of the places in the same family of locations
    • Fasting the day of
    • Actually going to the place
    • The waiting in line, indefinite time, with the static buzz hum of old lights and distant muffled conversations and occasional pages over the intercom
    • The rushed and harried medical workers taking paperwork and explaining some parts of the process in detail and in other parts just pushing me into place and very quickly summarizing as they started
    • Too many phials :( why were so many vampires after my blood :(
    • It turning out that I had not had enough water that day, so it was hard to locate a vein
    • The pinch pain of the initial thing
    • The follow-up not enough water problem of having trouble generating a urine sample
    • And then suddenly it was done and nobody needed anything else from me, so I just... wandered out
    Happy to report that the results themselves were pretty good. One thing of note, but otherwise solid across the board, better than I'd expected.

    Unfortunately, there was a Covid scare at work a couple days before my appointment to talk to the PCP again, which meant I definitely wasn't gonna go in.
    I called to say "hey, can we reschedule," and the person on the phone pressured me into switching to a phone call appointment instead - easier for them not to reschedule, probably, and I didn't want to argue the matter.

    It probably would have been better to argue the matter?
    I Dislike phone calls, they have all the speed and emotionality of spoken word, but with none of the context of body language or facial expressions to give it context, way too much space for me to spiral worriedly in and not enough reassurances or confirmations to ground those worries into.

    So, I forgot to followup mentioning another concern that had come to mind.
    It's important to make good lists and actually read through them and check things off through the meeting, so as not to miss things.
    • Witnessed x 3
  4. Acey

    Acey time has the power to bind us too close

    It’s probably worth asking if video appointments are an option—I for one find those wayyy less stressful than phone appointments (which I cannot do for pretty much the same reasons as you), and at this point in the pandemic I’d be surprised if they didn’t have that set up yet. Like, it’s possible they won’t, but chances are pretty decent they will? Worth asking, in any case.

    Also, if your new provider has an online option for making appointments/messaging docs/etc., that’s very much worth setting up. Definitely ask the doc about that when you get the chance, because if they have that, I’ve found it to be a godsend.
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