04 Jan 12 Can You Recommend….?

As I was doing my usual rounds around the internet (Facebook, Email, Blog, etc), I noticed something. Last week a gal on one of the threads I follow asked about a recommendation for a hair stylist. Almost the whole group joined in on the topic, and there are still recommendations coming out of the wood work.

Yet when a question was posed in the same group about a recommendation for a doctor, there were only about five responses. I got to thinking about what the reasons were that we were so concerned about our hair, and who was touching it, as opposed to who we see when we are ill.

I think the main reason is that we have no problems shopping around for a hair stylist, but we are scared to shop around for a doctor. Yet we should. Which is more important to our overall well being: A nice cut and color, or good medical care?

We should spend as much time and effort on our doctors as we do our hair stylist. Did you know that you can go into a doctor’s office, and for minimal money can ask for a consultation to meet the doctor and get a feel for whether or not you like them? For example, for those of us cancer survivors, I would not want to go to a general practitioner who is not well connected with the cancer community, and has several doctors that he knows, and perhaps works with. Why would you want to go to a doctor that knows almost nothing about MS if that is what you have?

That is what specialists are for. Wrong. Who do you think sends us to these specialists? These doctors have to be educated enough about whatever condition WE have to be able to refer us to the right places.

Go in, ask to sit down and interview the doctor you are considering. After all, they will work for you! Ask semi-generic questions that will give you an idea of what this doctor is like: How long have you been practicing? Where did you go to school? Ask if they have had training that specializes in any area in particular. What is your specialty or what do you specialize in? (That question adds appoint: there is a difference between having a specialty, and specializing in. One you train for, the other you have an interest in: There is a difference!) Ask how many patients they see with whatever may be your type of malady. Ask away!

This will give you a better idea of who you will be dealing with prior to having to see them while scantily dressed in the lovely paper gown. You confident do you feel when in that gown? How much more confident will you feel fully dressed, sitting and having a conversation? Do be careful not to turn it into an appointment. Remember, this is an interview. Don’t ask him to look at the boil on your butt unless you have decided this is who you want to see. The only exception would be if you have a perplexing malady, and want to test the doctor’s knowledge to see if they actually can correctly identify what you have (provided you already know).

We do have choices. Not always as many as you would like, but they are there. Even if you have a doctor you are assigned, I guarantee that others have been able to change doctors; sometimes it takes a bit more effort than others. Good luck, good health, and may you find a doctor in whom you can have as much confidence as your hairstylist.



  1. K.C.

    OK, question I’ve never seen answered — how do the insurance companies like these interview appointments? Is there a simple billing code the doctors use? When calling to make the appointment, do I simply say I want an appointment to interview to the doctor? In short, I understand the theory, but I need to know the 1-2-3 steps to take!

    • I start with the insurance company, I get a list of approved doctors from them, then I call the offices, tell them what I wish to do, ask them if/how much they would charge for that, and go from there. The only thing the insurance is involved in is that I make sure it is a doctor that is on my network approved list provided by my insurance company. I make it clear to the doctors office that I am not going to bill my insurance, and I do not want them billed, as I am not there because I am needing to see the doctor, other than as an interview. Most of the offices I have done this with seem to be really OK with that approach. Some places I have been to do not charge you anything. Some I have been to charge you only the office visit (which is out of pocket and usually less than $50 — less than getting a cut and color at many hair stylists). The only problem I have had is that the people who run the desk when you check in always ask for insurance info. So when I make an appointment, I make sure to ask them to put a note in there that no insurance information is necessary at that time.

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