Where to Search on Line
The following websites list Rheumatologists by State and City
Health Grades assigns a quality score to each Rheumatologist. Just remember to take their scores with a grain of salt. Their ratings are based on surveys they receive from patients. Often, only people who are unhappy with their care complete surveys so the results may be negatively biased. Pay attention to the results of each question before making a decision. EXAMPLE: A low score on wait time may not be as important as a low score on Do you trust their judgement?
US News and Rheumatology.org only provide profiles of each Rheumatologist (Education, Residency, etc.). They do not score physicians,but they are worth exploring because they provide you with some comparative facts.
Other Ways to Identify the Right Rheumatologist to Treat Your RA
- If you have a friend who has RA, ask them who they see and if they are happy with their Rheumatologist.
- Your Primary Care Physician may also know Rheumatologists in your area.
One WARNING about a referral from your Primary Physician: Your Primary Care physician will more than likely refer you to a ” practice” as opposed to one particular physician. The risk there is that you will get whoever is available. Be sure to look the Rheumatologist up to assure yourself that you are happy with the referral. That happened to me recently. I simply called the practice and requested a different doctor.
- You can also go on line and find a RA Forum. Ask others with RA who they see in your area.
Evaluation of Your New Rheumatologist
- Prepare for Your Visit:
- Complete the office paperwork in advance ( fill in all the blanks).
- Take your insurance cards and a picture ID with you to your appointment.
- Write down all of your symptoms and note the most severe symptoms.
- Write down all of your questions and get them answered before you leave.
- Bring pencil and paper so you can take notes.
- Be prepared for a long visit. Most Rheumatologists do thorough exams on new patients and ask lots of questions.
- Answer all questions honestly, even if it is an embarrassing question.
- Evaluate the the office staff, the nurses and the Rheumatologist
- Keep your ears open as you walk down the halls. Make sure the nurses seem caring and friendly
- Make note of your experience when you talk to the front desk office staff when you make your appointment and when you first arrive in the office.
- Does the Rheunatologist take the time to listen to your questions/concerns?
- Does the Rheumatologist treat you with respect?
What if I Do Not like the Rheumatologist I see?
Then KEEP LOOKING. Doctors have the same color of blood as you do. Some of them are good and others not so good.Until a cure for RA is discovered, you and your Rheumatologist are “joined at the hip”. You need to be treated as his/her partner and you need to create your treatment plan together. If your Rhematologist does not listen to you, treat you as a partner and treat you with caring and respect, please keep looking.
My search for a Rheumatologist:
- The first Rheumatologist I saw did nothing but check my scalp because she thought I had Psoriatic Arthritis. She spent 15 minutes with me, ordered no X-rays and was insulted that I would not begin taking Methotrexate immediately. Obviously, I never saw her again.
- The second Rheumatologist I saw found no evidence of RA ( not unusual) because it was early in my disease.
- I had the same experience with the third Rheumatologist.
- Then I moved to Kentucky and decided to try once more. I went to see a Rheumatologist. He looked at me and said I likely had Osteoarthritis only. On my second visit to him, I requested the first appointment of the day because I was working. I sat in the waiting room and watched him wander around and joke with his staff for 45 minutes during my scheduled appointment time. I finally went to the reception desk and told them I could not wait any longer. The Receptionist looked me straight in the eye and said:” I don’t blame you.” I walked out.
- I have finally found a Rheumatologist (#5) I love. She spends lots of time with me. I trust her judgement, If I call her nurse with a question, her nurse has an answer for me within two hours. I am very lucky to have found her, but I did a lot of looking and research before I made an appointment with her.
What about you? Have you had a similar experience.