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Adulting: Finding a Primary Care Provider

by Jennifer AnandSurvivor, Hodgkin’s LymphomaNovember 3, 2019View more posts from Jennifer Anand

The dreaded day had finally come – I had to find a new primary care provider….I don’t know about you, but this was the first time in my entire life I’d had to find a doctor.

As a kid, my mom always took us to someone. With cancer, my pediatrician set up my initial oncology consult, and oncology kinda always just told me who to go see. But here I was, 24 years old and ready to embark on this scary search of finding a PCP.

Here’s my advice when you reach this fateful day in your life:

PCPs are there to serve you!

Don’t forget that. I know it sounds haughty, but it’s your insurance money, and your life. Make sure they are there for you. They need to listen to your worries and concerns and work with you to find a reasonable course of action.

PCPs need to know you!

I’m pretty sure it’s a common cancer thing to hate a new doctor, because you’re going to have to recite 250 billion pages of medical history to them, and watch their eyes get rounder and rounder. Isn’t that why there is a giant manila folder with our name on it sitting in some medical filing building?? I was tired and angry the first time I met my survivorship oncologist. It was the third new doctor I’d seen recently, and I didn’t feel like telling her my history. The woman walked in, and asked me direct questions, and literally QUOTED MY MEDICAL HISTORY TO ME! “Oh, in 2015 you had this procedure, and this medication, and your lungs did this, and your scans showed this…”. I was awed. I had found the perfect human. Someone who had done their research on me! A few months later, she called me one evening. “Hey, I was reviewing your file and saw you get pneumonia every year. I think you should see this doctor, and make a plan to not get it this year.”. She was what? Reviewing my file because she had nothing else to do? Made a plan for me? Thought about what could help me? Dr. Hackney, you’re incredible. I walked into my now-PCP office for the first time, similarly dreading the rundown of my medical history. But she had also done her homework. Cancer, diabetes, hemolytic anemia, pulmonology reports, medications- only about 18 hours after I had made the appointment, she was prepared for me. You are worth it. Find a doctor who is going to be invested in your life. They’ll show it by the homework they’ve done, or the unorthodox solutions they find to make your life better.

PCPs need to spend time for you!

I was at the doctors until 4:50 PM on a Friday night. I was shocked when I saw the time on my phone! Never once had I felt rushed in the conversation. I felt like the center of attention during my appointment, and I felt like my concerns were addressed. Find a doctor who is going to take the time to value you. This is your life, and you know it best. We are golden unicorns, a rare breed who is alive when our ancestors would have died from our experiences. We are ready to rejoin the land of the living. We cannot be lumped with the cancer muggles, and what works for them so often will not work for us.

As we continue adulting, I wish you the best of luck in finding a PCP who will be good to you and help you to thrive in your life!

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