A woman pushes a shopping cart while she eyes up a line of doctors clutching clipboards.

Shopping for Your Healthcare Team

When you are shopping for a big purchase, say a car, for instance, you do your research and find the best option of what fits what you want in a car. You then go to test drive it and hopefully have a helpful sales associate assisting you. I feel like this can also be applied to shopping for your doctor/healthcare team.

Why is it important to shop for your healthcare team?

I didn’t know it then, but not all doctors know all the exact same information. When I was first diagnosed with MS, it was by a general neurologist. This was after a long battle to try and get the RIGHT answer to what was causing the numbness and tingling going on in my face and limbs - after I got multiple WRONG diagnoses from primary care physicians and hospital visits.

A life-changing diagnosis

After I received my diagnosis, it was obviously life-changing and I didn’t know what to do. I barely even understood what multiple sclerosis even was. So, since I was in my early 20s, I listened to what the professional was telling me what to do. I wasn’t given options on medication types, by the way.

Looking for a specialty neurology clinic

After a few months of not getting better - actually, I was getting worse - I started looking into other neurologist options in my area. I then found a specialty clinic and started really looking into the center and what other patients had to say about the specialist at the practice as well. I felt that if I have the time to research and read reviews on restaurants I wanted to try out, I should put in at least that effort into my health, right? Sounds so simple, but during that time I couldn’t think clearly and function the way I was used to doing so.

Do your research and find the best care for you

Once I was seen by the MS specialist, it was very eye-opening. I had even more information that I had to go through and understand. But at least I knew that I didn’t have to continue on the path that wasn’t working for me - the one that I felt was the only option I had.

Finding the right neurologist/healthcare team can be life-changing. Keep in mind that when I went in to see the specialist, I was loaded down with a LONG medication list with just as many side effects listed as well. All of that with no relief. But, I’m not going to sit here and say that there was an immediate change in my MS either after switching my doctor. I just felt like I was finally taking the right steps.

There is no one-size-fits-all

Just like there isn’t one medication that helps everyone with MS, it’s the same for neurologists. We are all different human beings and have different needs from a healthcare provider. What I’m getting at is that you should find a neurologist that wants the best for you and actually communicates with you and discusses your options. Make sure that you are included in the choice of treatment and not just told what you should do.

I never realized that with healthcare, the patient is the consumer, like when you’re shopping for a car or looking to go out to eat somewhere. If you went to a restaurant and had horrible service with disgusting food, you most likely won’t return to that specific place, right?

Your opinion matters

Don’t settle for less than you deserve. With everything that we go through on a day-to-day basis, we should at least feel confident that we are doing the best we can with our choices in regard to our health. Make sure you are comfortable with your decision and confident in your choice.

Resources to shop for your healthcare team

Here are some resources that I used to assist in my search for my neurologist/healthcare team:

Here is another article by a fellow writer that goes into more depth on what to look for and where to look: How Do I Find A Doctor? Help Is Here!

xoxo
Ashley Ringstaff

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