Amy Tenderich was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in May of 2003. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Diabetes Mine and co-authored the book Know Your Numbers, Outlive Your Diabetes. You will frequently find her speaking at diabetes, health, and social media events across the country.

Here’s something almost every person with diabetes learns the hard way: it’s important that you LIKE YOUR DOCTOR. If you feel uncomfortable, confused, or belittled during doctor’s appointments, then you will get zero help from those encounters.

It’s going to take a little more time and effort to seek out a doctor with whom you have good rapport, no doubt. But all the experts agree that it’s worth shopping around until you find a provider you’re comfortable with.

As one leading endocrinologist once told me, “Finding a doctor is like finding a friend. The relationship only works if you believe in each other and can form a partnership.”

Another endocrinologist suggests: “Ask your friends. Ask the local American Diabetes Association chapter. Each community has people who know more about diabetes and want to help. Find them. When you go to see them, tell them that you appreciate their efforts. Stick with them. Keep your appointments.”

What these doctors are hinting at is that it takes two to tango, of course. So while the doctor has to be willing to work with your own learning style, you have to be really willing to work with the doctor as well. This means speaking up and asking questions and being clear about what you are willing to do and not do. For example, if a meal plan looks totally unrealistic for you and your lifestyle, then say so—don’t just leave the office shrugging your shoulders, knowing you won’t follow it.

So how do you know if you’re going to like a new doc? The same way you know if you like any person in life. Meet, talk, and then decide.

Even if the doctor comes highly recommended, try to set up a brief initial meeting just to get to know each other. When you call for an appointment, don’t immediately tell the office that you intend to sign up as a new patient. Rather, tell them you are “looking for a suitable endocrinologist and would like to meet Dr. X.”

Finally, keep in mind that you’re free to switch doctors at any time. If you are walking away from your current doctor visits feeling deflated, then it’s probably time to look for someone who buoys you up, rather than drags you down.

Further reading

See this article on the importance of the doctor-patient relationship:

“Compliance versus Compassion”

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