Knowing, trusting, and developing a relationship with your family doctor throughout your life can be fantastic for ensuring the health care that you need when you need it. Not only will your chosen family doctor know your medical history, but they’ll also surely put you at such ease that you rarely hesitate to contact them. Unfortunately, despite all of this, there are still some situations in which your family doctor might not be the healthcare professional that you need.
As you get older, in particular, more complex health complaints, and a slight concern regarding how close that doctor is with your mother, could see you failing to open up or visit as much as you should. To avoid this and make sure that you’re never leaving your health at risk out of loyalty, we’re going to consider five instances where you may be better off seeking medical help elsewhere.
1) Concerns over quality of care
There’s never a more pressing reason to seek alternative medical opinions than if you have concerns over quality of care. Of course, this is unlikely if you’ve seen and been happy with a doctor for many years, but complacency isn’t always a good thing, and it could result in a doctor who’s a little less professional with you than they should be. A seemingly distracted manner as they speak to you like a friend can especially be a problem when a doctor’s treated you since you were a child. Equally, it’s worth remembering that age can take its toll, with outdated methods and even just simple age-based complaints like shaking hands or faltering eyesight potentially leaving a once-great doctor a little behind the best. Loyalty can make things tough in these instances, but your care relies on visiting the best doctor possible. You certainly won’t want to risk a misdiagnosis or incorrect course of treatment because you stuck around even when the signs suggested that you shouldn’t.
2) Serious health complaints
Because they’re the healthcare professional that you’ve always felt the safest with, your family doctor is likely the one professional that you do want by your side during a difficult diagnosis like cancer. In reality, though, family doctors who most often specialize in general medicine will be the first to tell you that they don’t necessarily have the experience to ensure what your body needs in these instances. In fact, apart from looking up your diagnosis of myeloma, non-small cell lung cancer, or similar in a medical journal, they might not have even seen this illness before. With that in mind, finding a specialist typically provides a far more expert-led and informed treatment path that you can rely on. That, in turn, could increase your chances of a full recovery, which you might otherwise jeopardize by choosing to stick with a doctor who can’t even come close to offering you those same benefits.
3) Problems of a personal nature
While the trusting relationships built between patients and their family doctors can sometimes make it easier to address embarrassing or personal problems, you may also find it difficult to discuss certain things with someone you’ve grown up seeing. For women, in particular, discussing things like childbirth, sexual health, and personal complaints like period cramps with a long-held family doctor can feel awkward. Equally, your desire to have this person continue thinking of you like the sweet child they’ve always known could make it tough to talk about pressing issues like substance abuse and other stigmatized issues. Of course, if you can bring yourself to open up about these things, then your family doctor’s understanding of your personality/history could help with your recovery. However, if you find that you’re avoiding these big-hitting topics, or are letting issues escalate because you can’t bear to bring them up, then speaking to somebody else is always best.
4) Issues that need addressing immediately
If a health complaint is causing you pain or severe worry, then waiting around for an undetermined time to see a specific family doctor who may have a lot of patients can be a problem. As much as you might want to stay loyal to your favorite healthcare provider in these instances, it’s therefore almost always worth making an appointment elsewhere. The good news is that, often, this could be with someone more available from the same surgery, and who knows at least a little about you before you turn up. Still, you should never stall a crucial appointment, or suffer for longer than you need to when you do realistically have the option of receiving the help you need elsewhere, at least in the interim.
5) Changing personal circumstances
As we grow, our circumstances inevitably change, and our ability to stick with our family doctors may also experience something of a shift. This is hardly surprising considering that you could end up seeing a family doctor for 20+ years of your life, but it is something that you need to take note of and recognize. In particular, as you enter adult life and even move away from your hometown, it’s important to note that you shouldn’t keep on coming back because you love your doctor, but should instead find a doctor you get along with just as well a little closer to home. Even if you’re staying in the area, having kids that you find you can’t sign up for a family doctor with closed or full books might mean that you would be better off seeking someone with availability to see you all for the sake of continuity. In either case, if seeing your family doctor becomes difficult as you change for any reason, then it might well be time to cut those ties and do what’s best for you or your very own family.
Your family doctor has likely seen you through a lot, and nothing can change how grateful you feel for those experiences. Still, make sure you’re not letting loyalty take its toll on your healthcare by considering these situations when looking elsewhere is probably best.