I truly believe the best piece of advice to give to patients of any condition is to be empowered. It’s important to empower yourself with the knowledge of your condition, the tools to help focus on healing at a mind, body and spirit level, and empower yourself to create your perfect healthcare team.
What do I mean by create your perfect healthcare team? It’s imperative that you seek out the best care that you can. That care varies greatly from patient to patient as we all value different traits and attributes. You want to find health care professionals who understand your situation, who value you as a person and who truly want to see you get better.
You’re not just a number or a patient and they shouldn’t treat you as such Here are 7 tips to help find the right psoriatic arthritis doctor for you:** 1.Think about what you want out of your doctor.**
There are so many different nuances that doctors have, it’s important to think through what you’re looking for in your health care professional. Just as when you’re searching for your ideal date - think through the traits and qualities you want! Do you want the top rheumatologist in the country who specializes in psoriatic arthritis, or are you ok with a rheumatologist who treats a variety of conditions? Is bed side manner important to you or could you put up with arrogance if the doctor was at the top of their game? What does the Doctor’s after-care hours look like, and do they have a protocol in case you need emergency treatment? It’s important to think through all facets when looking for your perfect doctor.
2.Make sure to gather all your information before your doctor’s visits.Being prepared when you go visit your doctor is a MUST. Most doctor visits aren’t long enough, therefore you must go in with a plan of action to make the most out of your visit.
Bring a list of your medications, medical and surgical history/conditions, allergies, contact information for your other physicians/providers and insurance information. Also bring any and all data you’ve collected on yourself to help show the doctor your whole picture. Make sure to do your homework: research possible treatments, write down concerns and questions. Having this information will allow you to get the most out of your appointment with the doctor.
3.Treat your first visit as a doctor interview.
I completely understand that some doctors take forever to get in to see. And I can appreciate that insurance plans restrict who you can and cannot see. But realize that the key is finding the doctor that works best for you! Your health is your wealth, and you need someone who will help get you on the right path to healing.
While you’re doing your homework from tip 2, also prepare a list of questions to ask the doctor. Is psoriatic arthritis one of the top conditions they treat? Do they treat all psoriatic arthritis patients the same? Are there specific medications they lean towards? Are they willing to communicate with your other doctors or specialists? Can they empathize with you? There are a ton of questions that you should have ready to fire off. Make this process easier by taking time to think through what you want out of a doctor.
_4. Look for a doctor who views your body as a whole. _
Taking a holistic view of your body will help combat your autoimmunity the best. Look for a doctor who treats underlying causes of autoimmune arthritis and doesn’t just manage symptoms. Many rheumatologists understand the importance of diet and exercise when it comes to chronic inflammatory conditions, so ask your doctor what they recommend. If this is important to you, you may even want to look into seeing an Allopathic Medicine, Holistic Medicine, Integrative Medicine or Functional Medicine Doctor. You could even add them to your roundtable (see tip 6) to supplement advice from your Rheumatologist. Finding a Doctor who wants to treat ALL of you, and not just your symptoms, is crucial when dealing with autoimmune conditions._5. You and your doctor should be healthcare partners. _
There are numerous scientific studies suggesting compassion, presence and support impacts a patient’s healing and outcome. Having a doctor who is on your side, who treats you as part of the team and wants to listen to you, is what you need to look for. Your doctor should be willing to listen to the research you’ve done on your own, take time to identify your specific needs and concerns and offer you practical advice that fits into your own life.
It’s also vital that we take responsibility. We must realize that we need to be partners with our doctors and not solely rely on them. Doctors are under many pressures and cannot be expected to be our sole advocate. Stand up for yourself and champion the best care for you. You are the expert of your body and your condition, and the key to letting your doctor know exactly what’s going on.
_6. Realize you need a roundtable of health care professionals to treat autoimmunity. _
Treating autoimmune arthritis is not a simple task. There are many different approaches and what works for one patient, may not work for another! Some psoriatic arthritis patients benefit from seeing an acupuncturist or chiropractor, while others must see a dermatologist to keep their psoriasis in check. Some patients may work with a Physical Therapist to keep moving, and may also see a psychologist or health coach for a positive mindset.
In any case, you must take responsibility to keep your “roundtable” of health care professionals on the same page. It’s also extremely beneficial when they’re willing to communicate between each other. With the help of referrals from your friends, family, other patients and other healthcare professionals, permitting yourself to take responsibility will help your outcome incomparably.
_7. Go with your gut. _
Always trust your instincts. Your body is so smart - it’s continuously giving you hints and clues on how to help it. If you feel uneasy with a specific doctor or feel like you’re not getting the answers you want, keep on looking! Don’t settle for second best. Without your health, nothing else matters.
Having the right medical care is SO crucial when dealing with any chronic condition, especially an autoimmune disease such as psoriatic arthritis. We must realize that we play an integral part in our healthcare and we should take this responsibility seriously. By taking the time to find the doctor who fits our specific patient criteria, fits best with our personality and who will give us the support we need, we help impact our healing. Take the reigns of your healing journey into your own hands and find the right Doctor to treat YOU.
Julie Cerrone is a Psoriasis HealthCentral Social Ambassador, certified holistic health coach, patient empowerer, yoga instructor, autoimmune warrior, and the blogger behind It’s Just A Bad Day, NOT A Bad Life. When she’s not empowering chronically fabulous patients to live their best lives, she can be found traveling, cooking, geeking out over health-related things, or enjoying life in Pittsburgh. Julie loves social media, so make sure to connect with her on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.