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We know how stressful it can be to figure out your treatment plan while you are experiencing symptoms of an autoimmune disease. A trusted doctor who understands and listens is an essential tool to help you take control of your health. Patients often try working with multiple doctors before finding the right fit and treatment plan; learn what to look for to find the optimal care team.
Do I need a general practitioner or specialist?
Different types of doctors can help you get a comprehensive picture of your health. Medical doctors (MDs) fall into two categories: generalists and specialists. Generalists (Primary Care Providers) are doctors who are a patient’s first point of entry into the healthcare system. Generalists conduct annual physicals, or are a starting point if you need to assess something that’s wrong with your health. They’ve been trained to diagnose a variety of conditions and can assist in helping you track your health over time or in coordinating care when you’re seeing a number of specialists.
Specialists are doctors who have advanced training and degrees in a particular branch of medicine, such as joint health or gastrointestinal health. Depending on the symptom, your primary care provider may recommend that you follow up with a specialist who can further diagnose and recommend treatment. Many health insurers require you to get a referral to a specialist from your primary care doctor.
Tips for Finding a Physician
Advocate for yourself
You know your symptoms and experience best – don’t be afraid to speak up if something isn’t working, or doesn’t feel right. The right doctor should be receptive to these conversations.
Use your intuition
If you feel like you’re not being heard, or something feels off, your doctor/patient partnership may be the right fit. Trust your gut!
Finding the right doctor, or team of doctors, can take time. Anticipate that you may try a few before it all falls into place!
Ask your doctor about their experience in caring for autoimmune patients, their experience with your specific condition, and anything else on your mind! If you don’t ask, you won’t know, and the more information you have available, the more comfortable you will be.