I recently moved to a new city and learned that WOAH! all Endocrinologists are NOT created equal. I quickly made an appointment at the first office with a decent website (good reviews, health grades,etc) that I found online. It was that experience that led me to write this post because BOY was that a bad idea.
The office was VERY different than what i had seen online (the internet? misleading? who knew?), and you know you’re in trouble when you find stacks of these in the waiting room:
I mean really?
Let me be clear that this is not a language issue. I’m fluent in español (en serio). Hablo español. Me encanta leer revistas en español, pero por Dios! No necesito ver a todo el mundo desnudo en la oficina!
For heaven’s sake! I don’t need to see the whole world naked in the Endo’s office! Does anyone? What if I’d brought my toddlers with me to this appointment? Call me a prude, but I’d prefer the content to be a little more neutral or perhaps of a medical nature. Bland diabetic magazines are fine thank you very mucho. It sends a signal.
Sometimes when you have diabetes it feels like you’re an island. Floating alone, watching people around you eat their cake and drink their lemonade, blissfully unaware of how many carbs they’re consuming! It can be a lonely disease, but every Diabetic should have at LEAST one person in their corner, dedicated to helping them. Enter the ENDOCRINOLOGIST.
The first step in getting the very best endocrinologist for you is remembering that doctors are people too. They are each going to have their own ideas, policies, personalities and those may or may not be well suited to yours. If you feel like you’re struggling with Diabetes, you should be able to call you Endocrinologist’s office and they should be able to provide you with education and resources to help you not only cope, deal, manage, but THRIVE with diabetes.
It’s a little like an interview. You’re looking to build a long term relationship, based on MUTUAL trust. You should be able to trust what the Dr. has to say, knowing he/she has your best interest at heart, and your doctor should also trust you to know your body and to do your part in taking care of yourself as best you can. It has to go both ways.
Here are some tips on how you can hone in on the traits you’ll want your doc to possess. So you’ll know when you’re in the right office!
1. KNOW YOUR NEEDS–do you use an insulin pump? If so, you need to ask your doctor if they are familiar with it, and can download it in the office. Do you want an insulin pump? Ask your doctor how he/she feels about them. I’ve heard of doctors “holding out” on patients and not “letting” them get a pump. Are you training for a physical event like a triathlon or a marathon? Your doctor should be able to give you tips on managing insulin and nutrition, and/or set you up with a nutritionist. Make sure you have a doctor that’s willing to work with you and your goals. Aside from the trashy magazines, the doctor’s office I visited was not capable of downloading info from my pump. That’s a big deal, because that’s where most of my data lives ( I don’t always keep perfect written records). So, two strikes.
2. LOCATION–start your search with the hospitals closest to you. Going to the endocrinologist is not exactly my idea of a dream day, and I’m much more likely to make the trek if at the very least the office is convenient and easy for me to get to. I realize this isn’t always possible, but it’s at least a starting point.
3. CLEANLINESS–the office should be clean, and every patient room in the doctor’s office should have a sink. It’s basic hygiene and germ control. Even better if they actually USE it and wash their hands when they enter/leave the room. The Trashy Magazine Office didn’t even have sinks in the patient rooms. Here’s my problem with that: Let’s say the patient before me has neuropathy in their feet and the doctor checks them out–or a toenail fungus–or the flu?!! See where I’m going here? The doc is quite likely to cart those germs right out of that room, all over the office, and then maybe right to me if he doesn’t wash his hands, which he can’t easily do without a sink in the office. Strike three for that office, if you’re keeping track.
4. FOOT CARE–Does your doctor check or ask about your feet at each appointment? Because he should. A great endocrinologist will be asking you about your foot care routine and doing a basic check for signs of neuropathy and circulatory problems. I’ve been to one Endo that wouldn’t touch feet–every foot question I had she pointed me to the list of podiatrists that her office supplied. There are so many reasons this doesn’t work for me, one of which is HEY MY TIME IS VALUABLE AND MY FUNDS AREN’T UNLIMITED! I SHOULDN’T HAVE TO SPEND MORE TIME/MONEY IN YET ANOTHER DOC’S OFFICE WHEN YOU COULD JUST LOOK AT THIS FOR ME (errr, but only if you have sinks in your office so you can wash your hands!!?!)!! And that’s how I feel about that.
5. LANGUAGE — Beyond just inglés or espanol (that’s important too), the language your endocrinologist uses with you, the way he/she speaks to you is important. As is their demeanor. Are they treating you like the expert you are? I don’t care what your numbers say, you live with this disease every day–you’re an expert. You may not be a medical doctor, so you need to work with the doctor to come up with the best course of action, but a great endocrinologist will take a real interest in what you have to say. Their language should never point to YOU being a bad person or bad at diabetes. This is a tough disease. The last thing I need is someone saying “Your Terrible” ( that actually happened in one dr’s office) because I’m not writing down my blood sugars in the format they prefer, or whatever the case may be. I’m looking for someone who’s going to be in my corner, and tell me the hard truths if I need to hear them, but not place a judgement on me.
How do you think I found Trashy Magazine Office? You guessed it, Google. There were all kinds of pics, great reviews, health grades, etc. But that was not the office for me. To his credit the doctor did seem to be really knowledgeable and well versed in pump therapy..but that’s not all that counts. His office has to meet my needs too.
But HOW do you find an endocrinologist that fits the bill? Especially if you’re in a new city and have no idea where to start? Well let me tell ya, a google search is prob not the best option in this scenario.
The first thing I’d do is CALL your Insurance. I know that prospect is about as enjoyable as sticking a fork in your eye, but they can give you some names of people in your network, and once you have a starting point you can call each office and straight up ASK about how things work at their office (“Can you download my insulin pump?” “Do you do blood work in the office or do I have to go to an outside lab?” etc).
As you get other doctors, internists, pediatricians, opthamaologist, etc, any and all specialties that you need in your life, ask those doctors if they have names of people they recommend.
And lastly, call the Minimed pump representative in your area. Even if you don’t wear a pump, if you can get in contact with these guys they usually have a short list of good doctors offices in the area. Again, a starting point and you can go from there.
Don’t settle for less than stellar treatment. This is a HUGE part of you life! If you find yourself in an office or with a doctor that just isn’t meeting your needs, remember you have options!