Sometimes You Have to Fire Your Doctor(s)
Last updated: April 2022
In 2006, I can remember sitting in an out-of-date waiting room of my new dermatologist's office. I was a college student hundreds of miles away from home, and this was my first attempt in Alabama at finding a dermatologist who understood my psoriasis.
Working with frustrating doctors
Honestly, due to how the waiting room appeared, I didn't have much confidence in my new doctor's ability to care for my needs. After being an adolescent without many treatment options and now an adult, this was the first attempt at finding a dermatologist on my own without the help of my guardians.
At this particular point in my life, I had dealt with psoriasis for a decade. I would say I wasn't your average patient.
A disappointing appointment
Although I wasn't nearly the advocate than I am now, I did take time to research treatments, and I knew what did and did not work for me. The nurses called me to the backroom, did my intake, and I waited for the doctor's arrival.
When the doctor walked into my room, he took a look at my skin, and after about 5 minutes of conversation, I was dressing and headed to check out with a brown paper bag full of topical samples I had tried and failed before.
At that time, I was scared to advocate for myself.
The intimidation factor
The doctor was intimidating. How could I, a nineteen-year-old college student, tell the doctor, the person who has spent eight or more years in medical school, I wasn't satisfied with their methods of treating my disease? Initially, I considered the relationship with my doctor a dictatorship. I typically get their feedback and advice without asking additional questions or voicing my concerns.
I figured, hey, this is the doctor; they know best right? I later found out this concept was wrong. I had just as much as a say, if not more, as my doctor. Your interaction with a doctor is similar to a healthy romantic relationship. You want to interact with a doctor in which it's a give and take. You want your doctor to listen to your concerns and needs.
You have the right to a doctor who will comprise and find the best methods to assist with the healthiness of the relationship. You want a doctor who will give you quality time as in appointments where he/she has meaningful dialogue about your disease including your concerns.
Be your own advocate
Another time I wanted to try a biologic. My insurance required I try a specific pill before I could be approved for the injection. I didn't want to try the pill because I heard it could cause problems with fertility.
I stood firm on not trying the required pill, and I shared this with my doctor, who agreed that a woman my age should not have to be subjected to the drug's side effects. He and his staff fought the insurance company and about 2 months later I was approved for the biologic without having to take the pill.
Remember that you are in control
Your doctor doesn't know your body or lifestyle specifically, and this is where we as patients must advocate for ourselves. Eleven years ago, when I walked into that doctor's office and was only given topical treatments, I should have spoken up for myself.
I should have said I'd tried that before, and it doesn't work for me. I should have shared my frustrations with topicals treatments and that I needed and wanted something different. I should have told him I wasn't pleased with his short assessment and needed to talk more.
It took me a while to realize the power I had to advocate for myself, even my doctor. If you aren't satisfied with your doctor's methods or attempts to treat your condition, please remember you are empowered, you can "fire" them and look for a new doctor!
Does your psoriasis management change with the seasons?