Managing My Medical Team
Last updated: November 2021
My medical team consists of a general practitioner, dermatologist, and rheumatologist. A team of doctors all with the common goal of keeping me as healthy as possible. Some of this requires immediate treatment for illness. Other times it involves treatment of long-term issues and let's not forget the comorbidities.
Then the many different faces of care
Being able to have a team that works for you as a patient is vital. When learning how to navigate life with psoriasis, it's important to have a basic understanding of the condition, the many different types of treatment options, and what type of doctors should be involved in management.
I wish I had known at the start of my psoriasis journey that I could advocate for my own self, especially when it comes to treatment. I became wiser as time marched on. Let's take a look at all the different types of doctor relationships when it comes to psoriasis management.
My first teammate is a general family physician who sees me for my yearly check-ups and when I am sick. We have worked together since 1994 when he was a new doc on the staff. At the time, the staff had two already established physicians. Dr. Nick was treating me prior to my psoriasis journey.
My dermatologist has changed four times in my journey due to insurance circumstances. The current team is a physician's assistant and a dermatologist.
I have had a few different rheumatologists. My original rheumatologist in 1996 moved out west and retired after four years. He was the starting point of my psoriatic journey.
The balancing act of seeing multiple doctors
You may wonder how I keep up with all the different physicians. First of all My general practitioner and rheumatologist know each other. Second, my rheumatologist knows of my dermatologist. Third, they all belong to the same network and use the same hospitals. The result is fantastic electronic communication between the physicians. I realize that this is the optimal scenario.
There was a time in the past when electronic communication was simply not a factor. My role in that situation was just as crucial. If I saw the rheumatologist, we would discuss treatment options. Around the same time, I would make an appointment with my dermatologist. It was a lot of back and forth.
Many times I would take notes about what each doctor discussed. Secondly, I would pay attention to the plans and if the second doctor mentioned one of the treatments in my notes from the first doctor, I would ask more questions.
- Do you think this treatment option would benefit my psoriasis?
- Do you know the side effects of this medication?
- How long do I need to be on this medicine?
- Do I need to do any kind of preparation?
- How long does it take to see results?
After I got answers to these questions, I would let them know that my other doctors either suggest the same plan or had other ideas. It was an effort of collaboration that allowed me to have a say in my care.
Communication is key
Before a prescription was given, one of the doctors would allow time for me to consult with the other members of my medical team. Then, when I felt comfortable, I would contact the doctor with my approval to start the proposed treatment plan.
At that time I would usually ask the prescribing doctor to share the information of the drug with the remaining members of my team. In summary, asking questions and being sure communication is active is the key to keeping all your team on the same page and ensuring quality care.
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