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21 Things to Know about Finding a New Rheumatologist Rheumatoid Arthritis Specialist

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 are you feeling corneredWhat to look for in a rheumatologist:

  • Asks questions, listens for answers.
  • Makes eye contact. Shakes hands gently.
  • Education is recent or up to date. Attending American College of Rheumatology (ACR) meetings every year or so is a good sign.
  • Encourages patients to become informed, educated about RA.
  • Welcomes friend or family member as an appointment companion.
  • Views you as the manager of your treatment plan, seeing you as a partner.

Where to look for a rheumatologist:

  • Ask friends, other doctors, pharmacists, nurses, and hospital staff. (I had medical records clerk warn me about a particular surgeon with a reputation for being abusive. Eventually, I witnessed it myself. I should have listened to her. )
  • Use a wide radius: be willing to drive an hour or two.
  • Try to use a university or teaching hospital. The doctor will be more up to date on current studies and treatment.
  • Search doctor rating websites for lemons and gems. Trysites like angieslist.com, RateMDs, Vitals, Vimo.
  • Use the phonebook to call rheumatology offices, asking pertinent questions.
  • Cross check credentials, education, or pertinent questions online. Try Google, Facebook, LinkedIn.

What to do when you see a new rheumatologist:

  • Make an appointment, saying that you are hoping to find a new rheumatologist. (Yes, this sounds like you are trying them out. That is the point.)
  • Obtain all records and make copies for the new doc’s office. Offer to pre-send your records if the doctor prefers.
  • Fill out as much paperwork as possible ahead of time and try to arrive early.
  • Type up a summary of past and current RA-related issues and treatments. Include lists of current medications and all past RA-related medicines.
  • Be appreciative, cheerful, and polite when possible.  Try to make friends with the staff.
  • Bring someone with you to help understand & remember what was said.
  • Listen to the doctor’s opinions, even taking notes. Ask pertinent questions.
  • If you are treated very well, consider sending brownies or flowers. (Good people deserve to be recognized, even if they are just doing their job.)
  • Do not go back if you are treated disrespectfully. Tell them why you cannot come back.

Recommended reading:

The Onset Story project

The RA Kitchen project

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Kelly Young. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted on Thursday, November 5th, 2009 at 7:02 am and is filed under For the newly diagnosed. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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