I have to admit that I didn't really notice the issue before. I had the same doctor since I was 16 and I honestly don't even remember how it was that I first came to start seeing her. She was a good, caring doctor who was always a little overbooked, so the wait was long, but hey, if your doctor is listening to your health concerns and genuinely seems interested in helping you, who am I to complain?
Things, sadly, always change. My doctor moved to a large clinic facility, which is great because you have access to everything in one place, but she started to double book each 15 minute appointment, so that if your appointment was for 1:15, you probably wouldn't get in to see her until 3:00. And that's only if you showed up on time for your slot. God help you if you were late, you could be there until 4-ish. She was also getting older and taking many, many more vacations a year than an average person. Plus she was Jewish and did not work on any of their numerous holidays. Factor all of this in and you have to book your appointment 3-4 weeks in advance. Hopefully you get a heads-up as to when you're going to actually get sick. So I went to see her less and less frequently because, quite frankly, I just don't have the time nor patience for this type of waiting game. After I moved to Oshawa, it was even more difficult to get out to Toronto to see her. Plus, any specialists she sends you to will be in the Toronto area, and that was a can of worms I did not want opened.
As for pediatrics, my children's doctor was located in Richmondhill, which also became something of an issue after we moved. Sure, regular checkups and immunizations aren't an issue, but when your child is really sick (but not emergency room sick), you want to be able to get to the pediatrician as soon as possible. His office was also always packed and waiting upwards of 45 minutes after your appointment time was the norm. He suggested we find a doctor closer to us in Durham, but had none to recommend. I did some internet searching and found one accepting new patients. We saw him a couple of times. After a few months under his care, I called to make an appointment for a checkup for the boys. Imagine my surprise when I was told that the doctor retired! I don't know about his other patients, but I did not receive a phone call, letter or email letting me know that perhaps I should make other arrangements for my children's medical care. The receptionist there also had no suggestions for a new pediatrician.
Off to the internet I went to begin my search anew. A word of caution: just because the internet says that Dr. A is accepting new patients, pick more than one and don't hold your breath. Unfortunately, not all information online is always up to date, and sometimes you run into snags. Always have a backup. Or two. From experience I can tell you that it is not easy to find a pediatrician. My boys aren't little anymore, so I just found some GPs and started making calls. I found them a doctor. Not the greatest, mind you, but at least they have a doctor. She's the type that doesn't take much time with you and usually says things like "it's fine" and "I wouldn't worry about it". If you're the sort of person who believes that the medical professional knows what they're talking about, you'll say "great" and go home. I, on the other hand, can be a bit pushy when I need to, and I always make good use of the internet and spend some time looking up symptoms on multiple sites so that I feel that I'm a little informed about what I could possibly be facing. I can then decide whether or not to take "it's fine" at face value, or push for a more thorough examination and possibly a referral to a specialist. Case in point: My husband had a mole on his face which grew, changed shape and colour frequently, and bled.
Now, I have absolutely no medical training, but even without the internet I can tell you that is not normal behavior for a mole. I have lots of moles, and not one of mine behave that way. I went with him to see her and she took a quick look at it (at the time it was crusty because it had been bleeding on and off that week) and proclaimed it was nothing to worry about. I did not agree, so I pressed her for a referral to a dermatologist. A month or so later they removed and tested it and lo and behold, it was malignant. The lesson here is that you should always do your own research and use your own judgement. Push if you have to, it's your health you're dealing with. So we have a shitty doctor, but good luck finding another.
My own search for a new family doctor has also not been a barrel of monkeys. My kid's and husband's doctor (she is one and the same) is still accepting new patients, however, I wanted to try to find a better one for myself, and then try to bring the boys over to mine. I have been going to an urgent care clinic these past two years whenever I am very sick, but that also means that I have not had a regular checkup in almost three years. Since I am no longer a spring chicken, it seems necessary to have a family doctor you're comfortable with, who is close enough that you can see them regularly for checkups and illness.
I hit the internet again, this time spending some time on ratemds.com which is a great resource for people looking for a new doctor. They have information about whether the doctor is accepting new patients, patient reviews and often whether they are male or female, which can make a difference with comfort levels. So I found a fantastically rated doctor located in the very medical center that houses my kid's doctor. I called to make an appointment and was told that she is on mat leave and (obviously) not taking appointments right now. Ugh, I felt dejected. The only other highly rated doctors were in Whitby and male. I really wanted a doctor in Oshawa. I took a chance and asked if the receptionist knew of any other doctors in the building who were accepting new patients (it's a central booking system, so I rolled the dice). Third time's the charm, I guess. She did have another doctor she could make an appointment with for me. In two weeks. Wow. In regular circumstances I wouldn't mind. It's been over two years, what's another two weeks, right? Only problem is that I have been having some disturbing symptoms recently which cannot be attended by a walk-in clinic. If I am correct, there will be tests and medication and on-going appointments, all of which warrant regular visits to one doctor. I could go to my Toronto doctor in the meantime, but I do not want to have to start over again in the middle and explain everything again and go through testing a second time with a new doctor. I'd rather start with one and follow through. Also, it would probably take three weeks before I get an appointment with her anyway. Could be longer if she's on vacation. So, whatever, I decided to take the appointment and wait the two weeks. That was a week ago. My appointment was scheduled for next Thursday, June 20th. I say was because I received a call from the clinic yesterday cancelling my appointment because this doctor is also going on maternity leave and will not be seeing any more patients, new or otherwise. It should not be this difficult to see a doctor.
So I asked her, again, if there were any other doctors in the facility accepting new patients. She told me another one and set an appointment for the end of June! So I waited a week for an appointment two weeks away just to have that one cancelled and another made two weeks from now? I informed her that it was kind of important that I see a doctor soon, I've already waited a week. I have medical issues, which is pretty much the reason I made an appointment in the first place. So she "fit me in" two days earlier. It's still two weeks away, but really, what choice do I have? Oh, and this doctor seems to have an even worse rating than the doctor I'm currently trying to avoid. I checked if there were any others available to see new patients... two. And one of them has a terrible bedside manner (apparently) and the second is just as apathetic about your medical problems as my kid's current one. Pick your poison, I guess.
So there you have it: my commentary on what I didn't actually think was broken until I had to use it!
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