How to Find a Good Neurologist
Some of us have been fortunate to connect with doctors and other medical care providers who we are pleased with, and we often feel like winners in some big lottery. But then there are those people who are still seeking the right team members. People will often ask how to find a good doctor, and I’ve accumulated some tips that might be useful if you are in the still-searching group.
Upfront, I want to say I recognize many people don’t have the option to look around for doctors. They may live in remote areas with limited numbers of providers or have insurance constraints that keep them to certain doctors. If you fall into one of those groups, I can only hope you are satisfied with the medical care and advice you receive.
If you're searching for a good doctor
But for others who might be searching...
Maybe you are just starting this MS journey and are looking for a doctor to settle in with for the long trip. Your family doctor or someone at a hospital has sent you to a neurologist who gave you the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, but you want might to check out other options or get a second opinion.
There's nothing wrong with switching to different care
For others, if you aren’t happy with your care, don’t just sit back... do something about it. Many people with Multiple Sclerosis are known to ‘fire’ their neurologists and look for care elsewhere. Sometimes their approach to treatment is a reason to move on – maybe the doctor wants to wait and see if the person really needs to be on a disease-modifying therapy. Or their scheduling department and receptionists’ attention is an irritation every time you have contact with them. There are a lot of reasons why people become unhappy with their doctors, and it is no crime or shame to want to find a better situation.
Searching for a neurologist online
So what is a good way to find a new neurologist? Do some sleuthing – that old-fashioned detective work where you search for clues and put together the pieces. The easy way out is to use the internet, go to chat rooms and forums where they are discussing MS and just ask – ‘anyone have a doctor near Anytown, USA you would recommend?’ and then wait for their answers. You might get lucky and find someone to connect with without leaving the comfort of your home.
MS specialty clinics
You could use some of those online rate-my-doctor sites for recommendations, but remember, more people take the time to complain than to praise, and those ratings are almost always suspect. They are rarely objective, and I wouldn’t recommend those as the first source of doctor names. The Consortium for MS Centers has an online directory of the doctors who have completed their certification in multiple sclerosis, and it is easy to search there for the MS Clinics in your home state. Remember though, being certified in MS specialty still doesn't guarantee the neurologist will be a good fit for you.
Going to in-person gatherings or events
Now, a good detective doesn’t mind going out and pounding the pavement and making personal connections, and I like that approach the best for finding a great neurologist or other providers. Go to where other people with MS gather - this could be support groups, special events sponsored by your local MS organizations, or even the talks sponsored by the pharmaceutical companies.
Ask about what's important to you
Ask people with MS who they see and would they recommend that doctor to others. Ask probing questions such as how hard is it to get in to see the doctor, or do they have plenty of time for appointments or does it feel rushed. Think of what is important to you with a doctor and ask those questions. The best and most honest answers you will get are going to come from other people who are already using the services of these medical providers.
The right neurologist is out there
Neurologists who specialize in multiple sclerosis and are a good match for you and your care might be hard to find, but they are out there. Keep searching until you are satisfied and feel like you’ve hit the lottery jackpot, too.
Wishing you well,
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