Over the years, I hadn’t had much interaction with my family doctor except for my yearly exams and the occasional bug that was going around, so I have had the same doctor for years. I had some comfort in feeling like she really understood me and my medical history. She recently sent me a note to tell me that she is leaving the clinic where she practices. I actually feel relieved that I have to find a new physician. I had been feeling like I needed a change but just hadn’t taken the time to make the move. Now I have to and I am happy about it. There are many reasons to change physicians and it may be a “healthy” move for you.

Here are 7 of my reasons for choosing a new family doctor:

1. My doctor was never available for an appointment. I liked my doctor and she had a good bedside manner. She shared her life and shared stories, but when I would call for an urgent appointment, she was never available. I later learned that she only worked a couple days a week. Being nice doesn’t really make up for being unavailable. If you can’t get in to see your doctor, it’s time to find a new one.

2. Her staff was unbending and abrupt. The office staff are the link, or in my case the “wall” between me and my physician. I found that I hated to call in to her office because the answer to my needs was always “no.” The clinic where she works trains their receptionists to protect thedoctors, and I felt like I was a nuisance and someone to be put off. Bad office staff is a sign to consider changing your physician.

3. I wasn’t listened to and my needs weren’t addressed. My last visit was with a nurse because my doctor wasn’t available. I had 3 issues to discuss, and we only discussed one issue before the nurse ran off to another patient. She heard my first concern, addressed it and put aside the rest. Well, actually she walked out as I was addressing my last two concerns again. When I left the office, I wasn’t quite sure what just happened but came to realize she just didn’t listen to me or book enough time to spend with me. I am relieved I won’t be putting my care in her hands again!

4. I questioned her competence. I never really questioned my doctor’s competence until she sent me to the Urgent Care Center for an impassable kidney stone. For those who have never had such fun as an impassable kidney stone, they are PAINFUL. I was looking for a solution to the problem and something for the pain which was about a 20 on a scale of 1 to 10. When I arrived at the Urgent Care, they sent me directly to the ER for 2 reasons: 1. Urgent Care didn’t have the equipment to x-ray the stone and, 2. They are not able to prescribe narcotics for pain control. A wonderful nurse at the Urgent Care center called ahead and got everything set up for me at ER and she even questioned why my doctor would cause me extra pain and suffering by sending me to the wrong place for care.

5. They don’t coordinate with other doctors. During the same kidney stone incident, I was finally diagnosed and told to call the clinic urology department to set up a time to have my stone blasted. I was in a lot of pain and asked why they wouldn’t help get me set up with the specialist. The reply was, “We don’t do that anymore, and here is their 800#.” It took me 2 days of more pain before I could get in to the urologist. Horrible service is a reason to change your doctor.

6. You don’t “mesh” with your doctor. When I was originally diagnosed with cancer, I began treatment in my home town . . until I met the oncologist. He and I did not mesh.  In fact, I thought he might be the reason I would not survive cancer. At our first meeting, he explained the chemotherapy options and then pushed me to begin these treatments right away that week. The problem was, I was one-week post op from surgery to remove my tumor and was not in any shape physically or mentally to begin chemo. This oncologist didn’t seem to care about this and kept pushing me. You just can’t go through a regiment like cancer treatment, hoping your doctor doesn’t kill you. This was a sign that I had to step back and find a new oncologist, which I did!

7. Outside circumstances can force a change. Sometimes you need to change doctors because your insurance no longer accepts your physician as part of the network or because you have moved and it’s just too inconvenient to maintain that relationship.

Whatever your reason for changing your doctor, know that this can be a healthy change. Don’t leave this task to a time that becomes urgent. While you are feeling good, ask your friends and family for references and then do some research about your new physician. Schedule a check up to meet your new physician so that you are an established patient when you really need them.