Skip to Accessibility Tools Skip to Content Skip to Footer

“Would You Like to See the Doctor?”

The week before last, I called the neurology clinic where I’ve been going since 2005 to schedule an appointment with my nurse practitioner.  I phone up the appointment scheduling number.

Me: “Hi, I need to schedule an appointment with Michelle.  I’m overdue for a follow-up visit.”

Scheduler: “Michelle no longer works here.  She moved back to Tennessee last year.”

Me: “What?” Silence. “I saw her, um, last August and nobody told me she was leaving.”

Scheduler: “I can schedule you to see Dr. S…. Would you like to see the doctor?”

Me: “Okay.  When does he have an opening?”

Scheduler: “I can get you in on August 19th.  What do you need to see the doctor about?”

Me: “Well, it’s just a regular, routine visit.  I was supposed to schedule something months ago, but just didn’t.”  I had previously been going in for an office visit every 4-6 months, depending upon what had been going on with my MS.  Not much has been going on (which is pretty great) so I hadn’t felt an urgent need to be seen.

Scheduler: “Will you need any prescriptions?”

Me: “Yes, at least one; I’m about to run out.”  Looking at the quickly emptying prescription bottle is one thing which prompted me to call for the appointment.

Scheduler: “Do you have enough to last for the next couple of weeks?”

Me: “I’ll have to check to see what I have, but I think so.”

Scheduler: “Good.  I have you down to see Dr. S… on Tuesday, August 19th, at noon.”
The scheduler also verified that my insurance was the same and reminded me to bring my insurance card to the office.  She forgot to remind me to fill-out the brief MS symptom questionnaire and prescription form which is now available online.  But that’s okay, because I remember.

So after I got off the phone, I walked into the living room and informed my husband – Michelle’s gone (sad face).  I’ve been primarily consulting with Michelle, the nurse practitioner, rather than my neurologist, since around 2007 or 2008.

Of course, she had kept him apprised of what was going on, and he stopped by during a visit or two just to check to see how I was doing.  But when I needed something, I called Michelle.  If I was experiencing a relapse and called the office, she’s the one who called me back quickly and was even known to have me come in later that same day.

It’s strange.  I feel kinda lost.  Of course, I like my neurologist and I really like the neurology clinic itself.  I’m very fortunate to have access to a neurologist who specializes in MS, a nurse practitioner experienced with MS patients, another dedicated MS nurse who helps to run things, and an in-house infusion center with an infusion nurse who is amazing at finding tiny veins.

This clinic hosts an annual workshop for any MS patient living in the area, as well as monthly “newly-diagnosed” support group meetings where patients have a couple of hours of face time with the doctor, MS nurse, and other patients and care partners to learn about aspects of the disease and get answers to questions.

So what’s the problem?  Why am I nervous about my upcoming appointment?

Well, Michelle and I had developed a comfortable relationship.  She would answer any questions I had unrelated to my own MS symptoms.  I could bend her ear about popular topics in the MS community and get a healthcare professional’s viewpoints on things.  And often she would spend close to an hour with me.  I was spoiled with the attention.

My neurologist probably won’t have the time to humor me with answering questions if they are related to concerns I encounter in the online community.  He might not be willing to write paper prescriptions so that I can control when and where I fill prescriptions since most everything is electronic now, including e-prescribing.  And, he might not be as generous with the “free” samples of certain medications I can’t afford.  None of these concerns are deal-breakers, however.

My neurologist is quickly approaching, or may be past, retirement age and has already been awarded a lifetime achievement award by the Consortium of MS Centers.  I have known that I would need to develop a relationship with a new doctor at some point, but I didn’t expect to feel like I had to re-develop a relationship with my current (official) doctor.

Everything will be fine, I know, so the pensiveness doesn’t make sense.  Or maybe it’s just that my favorite nurse practitioner is gone.  (sad face again)

I think I will suggest, however, that the office send letters to all of the patients when they have a change in personnel.  They could have taken the opportunity to announce Michelle’s departure and introduce her replacement.  It would have been the courteous thing to do.

When dealing with a lifelong, chronic disease, we will develop relationships with a number of healthcare providers over the years.  Change and turnover is inevitable.  Learning to deal with change is an important aspect of living with MS.

We’ll see how it goes on Tuesday.  I’m sure that everything will be fine.  Maybe I’ll even get to officially “graduate” to once yearly appointments from here on out.  Wouldn’t that be cool?

Lisa Emrich | Follow me on Facebook |Follow me on Twitter | Follow me on Pinterest

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • alchemie
    5 years ago

    Well, luckily you all have found someone at a Neuro’s office, who seems to be worth it. Don’t get me wrong, there is this one here who is pretty good but after he hired this hack to join his office, I stopped going there. That hack was my 1st Neurologist and he was very unprofessional. He would not listen to me and I ended up losing the vision in my left eye for over 5 years. Now, I’m not saying that if I would have had Solu-Medrol quicker it would have saved my vision but it should not have taken 5 months of a 1st major relapse with countless symptoms for a Neuro to put you in the hospital to get some relief.

    This newest Neuro isn’t any better either. He’s kinda a hypocritical flip-flopping a-hole. I read up on the stomach side effects of Tecfidera that I was having over this past weekend, and the new Neuro should have ordered blood tests but he didn’t. Several other people who had the same problem said that their WBCs were low and that there was a problem with their liver. The newest Neuro’s office were more concerned about advancing my follow-up appointment to get me on another MS Therapy, “as quick as possible”. This Neuro told me that he didn’t want to force me on a MS Therapy multiple times.

    The issue that you describe here has been my problem at primary care offices. The best PCP I’ve ever had actually got promoted to director of the clinics. I miss him so! He knew all about MS and would listen to me. I do see a PA who is awesome and should be a doctor but unfortunately, I can’t stand the doctor she’s under.

    Anyhow, the moral of the story is, the Neurologists in this city aren’t worth my time. Unfortunately, if I want refills on Baclofen, Gabapentin, or if I want to get on a new MS Therapy medication, I have to see one. I need to move…

  • Lisa Emrich moderator author
    5 years ago

    Hi alchemie,
    So sorry to hear that you’ve had similar experiences. Several of my other doctors have been in private practice and brought on another doctor who I ended up seeing instead. In my case, a number of these younger doctors ended up taking over the practice when the original doctor retired or moved away. Fortunately, I’ve like the newer doctors and have been lucky that they have been good.

    I’m wondering what will happen when my current neurologist retires (which he is probably very close to doing). Will I like the new person? Will the office be the same? At this point, do I need more than access to medication/refills and steroids if they are necessary? Or will something drastic happen and I need someone who is highly experienced and up-to-date with the latest information?

    So many questions for a day that will come, eventually. But for now, I do like that the doctors, nurses, and office personnel are extremely skilled and knowledgeable, and would definitely order the appropriate tests to monitor patients on certain treatments or to follow their disease progression, without overusing medical resources.

  • Laura Kolaczkowski
    5 years ago

    The practice I go to did NOT send out notices when their beloved MS NP left for a place closer to her family. But they did send out letters not once but twice when two different neurologists who I had NEVER seen left their clinic to practice elsewhere.

    Unfortunately the importance of the role of the NP continues to be downplayed.

  • Lisa Emrich moderator author
    5 years ago

    Seems like this must be common practice based on the responses I’ve received so far. You might find it interesting that after I showed up for my appointment was when I learned that I would be seeing the new NP. She was nice enough, and I got what I needed out of the appointment, but it’s not the same (yet) as having a really good relationship with a healthcare provider you completely trust. Oh, and I missed out on chitchatting about what the latest thoughts are from the professional side of things regarding developments in MS. Michelle was not hesitant to tell me things that the office was noticing with their patients regarding different treatments, insurance coverage, etc.

  • Sue
    5 years ago

    Wow. I have to say that my endocrinologist did not bother to let me know the PA was leaving either, who was someone I worked with for the last several years, seeing the doc only once a year or so. (I have Type 1 Diabetes as well as MS.) So I feel your pain. I’ll be meeting a new PA in October, but it will be strange! Fortunately I am pretty comfortable with the doctor, but I miss my PA!

  • Lisa Emrich moderator author
    5 years ago

    Sue, It’s somewhat surprising that offices don’t inform their active patients of changes in the personnel of their healthcare providers, including PAs and NPs. Laura’s comment above echoes the same experience we’ve had. Turns out that I didn’t get to see my neurologist after all. I learned (at the appointment and in the exam room) that I would be seeing the new nurse practitioner. Everything turned out okay; I got what I needed out of the visit.

  • Poll