Why You Should Have a Doctor (Even if you don’t need one)

This past August I began a new career venture into the medical field.  I was already familiar with a call center environment given my nearly 3 years spent working in one for Bank of America.  I was not, however, prepared for the vast array of stories I would be told by patients or the realization of how flawed the healthcare system in this country truly is.

I will likely be posting more blogs related to my adventures within the healthcare world, but for now I will start by telling you one important thing I have come to realize – everyone needs a family doctor aka primary care physician (PCP).

It never ceases to amaze me when people call in and state they haven’t been a doctor in X amount of years, but now they need to be seen, and it needs to be that day.  Maybe back in the day that could happen, but now with an aging population, endless chronic conditions, and the short supply of doctors, their odds of winning a local lottery are probably better.  During the flu season (which is currently hitting hard) it’s even closer to impossible as people don’t seem to realize that if they’re not an established patient already then unfortunately they really aren’t as high of a priority.

Here are some of the key reasons everyone (including you!) should have a doctor:

1 – Sick Visits – This is the most obvious and as noted above, if you aren’t already being seen at a specific office, good luck getting an appointment in a timely fashion.  I know, I know, you’re healthy and haven’t been sick in 5 years and never get sick.  Well guess what, it happens, and you’re better off having a doctor already established than be scrambling to find one when you’re glued to the couch or hanging over the toilet.

2 – Follow Up Visits – You may think you don’t need a doctor because you can go to a walk-in clinic or the hospital as needed.  What you don’t realize is that many times if you do that, the doctor you see there will refer you back to your primary doctor for a follow up visit.  Sliced and diced your hand over the weekend and got stitches at the ER?  They’re not going to have you come back to remove them; that’s your PCP’s job.

3 – Referrals to Specialists – If you’re like me you may actually trust specialists more than a regular doctor.  They are specialized in a field after all right?  Unfortunately many insurances don’t offer the luxury of just seeing a urologist, cardiologist, etc. because you think it’s better to go to them.  Instead an insurance company may require a referral to these specialists and guess who needs to put through that referral?  Yep – your primary care doctor.

4 – Medication – You have all the symptoms of a sinus infection and don’t want to waste the time to make a visit to the doctor.  Think a doctor will call you in a prescription if he or she doesn’t know you?  Nope.  Now some doctors may still require you to have a visit, but if a doctor knows you and your medical history well enough (ex you get a sinus infection every year) then they’re going to be a lot more likely to send something to the pharmacy for you.

I could list more reasons I’m sure, but I think you’ve gotten the point by now.  You don’t even need to see a doctor more than once a year if you’re fortunate enough to have good health.  You just need to find a doctor, go in and establish care (we call them “wellness visits”) so that the doctor knows you and has your medical history/medications on file.  Then the next time you’re sick or in need of a doctor you won’t be frantically trying to get an appointment only to hear “Sorry the doctor doesn’t have anything available for the next 2 weeks.”

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