Is it ok to change doctors?

It is absolutely ok to change doctors! Even if you’ve been seeing the same person for years. 

For most people, their primary health care provider (usually called a GP or PCP) is their strongest connection to the wider healthcare system. This person is entrusted to help you stay healthy, and to get better when you don’t. You should trust them to have your back, and if you can’t say with absolute certainty that your doctor will help you make the right choice for you, it might be time to consider a new one. 

Most of my clients who are unhappy with their doctors tell me that:

  • They don’t feel listened to
  • The appointment is too short to cover their needs
  • They can’t ask questions (either due to time, or because the doctor is unapproachable)
  • They don’t understand their health care plan, or that they don’t even know what the plan is and are just doing what they are told!
  • The doctor is dismissive, talks down to them, or otherwise indifferent

If you feel like this about your GP or PCP at all, it’s probably time to start looking for a new one. Even at the best of times, health care is complex and full of educated guesswork. If you don’t have full trust in your doctor, you’re less likely to share the details of your health, less likely to follow through on treatment, and have a lower overall quality of life. And that’s if you actually are willing to go! 

What to look for in a doctor

Like dating, it can take some time and a few tries to find the right person, but it’s worth it. Ultimately, you want someone that you can work with as part of a team. They know the medicine side of things, but you are the expert in your body, and that should be taken into account. Look for a doctor who:

  • Listens well and remembers you
  • Offers you different treatment options
  • Can explain why they recommend something, or how a treatment or prescription works in a way that you can understand
  • Makes you feel comfortable (or as comfortable as possible)
  • Is a nice person! 

There are great doctors out there. I wouldn’t trade mine for the world, but I only got to her after seeing seven other people. That was over a decade ago and I’m still so happy with my treatment. The good ones are out there! 

As a side note: None of this is to say primary care doctors are bad. As healthcare becomes increasingly more a business and less a calling – or, really, as smaller practices are bought out by multinational companies – general practitioners are often shoved towards acting in the best interest of the business, and not necessarily of their patients. Shorter appointments and rushed interactions are hallmarks of this pressure. Your health should come first though – so if you aren’t happy, change!

2 responses to “Is it ok to change doctors?”

  1. You obviously did the right thing by urging us to opt for a doctor who respects our rights and boundaries as patients. My ex-boss just moved to Wyoming a few weeks ago and is now trying to find a suitable medical facility for his regular checkup. I’m gonna remind him to look further into this aspect so that eventually, he could get in touch with the right healthcare provider.

    1. Hey Sam. Thanks for your comment. Feeling comfortable is such a key element of quality healthcare! I hope everyone stays well looked-after 🙂

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