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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Choosing a new doctor

Today the Mr and I are meeting our new doctor.  We had the same doctor for about 15 years.  She wasn't necessarily the best doctor but she would work the system by making sure things were worded properly to make sure insurance covered what they were supposed to.  See kids, back in the day when you had insurance it actually covered things.  Then they started becoming all about profit and draining the working man into bankruptcy and now you have to fight with them to get them to cover the little things they actually say they will.

But I digress...

We have a dear friend who was in school to become a doctor and halfway through her training decided it wasn't for her.  Then she went on to recently complete nurses training.  We are very similar to her in that we do not like conventional medicine and would prefer to treat the whole person, not throw a pill at it and hope a 3rd leg doesn't sprout as a side effect.  She was telling us about the difference between an MD and a DO.  An MD is that kind of assembly line mentality whereas a DO will take more time to get your background, find out your eating habits, stresses and wants to know the person as a whole.  We said when we decided to switch that we would definitely look into a DO.  When I was in San Francisco and got sick, I called our doc because I suspected strep.  She refused to call in any kind up prescription because I hadn't been to her in 14 months and was now considered a 'new patient.'  WTF!?!  For me, I was kind of done with her at that point.  Two years later when the Mr needed a punch biopsy which he'd done before, we were shocked to get a hefty bill.  She neglected to tell us that she dropped our insurance prior and then wouldn't even negotiate down.  We were truly done with her then.  Any kind of quick diagnosis needed would be handled through Doctor on Demand.

We dragged our feet getting around to switching docs and then the decision was made for us.  Our skinny, granola doctor who used to blame anything from a hangnail to a stubbed toe on us being fat...had a stroke.  She was unable to speak and had to close her practice.  We got a letter in December saying that we had until the end of March to get our medical records transferred.  We tried desperately to get them to release our records to us so we could take them with us.  After all, they were ours.  Nope.  She refused.  I don't know if it is law or what but I know plenty of people who have had their records released to them.

Now we were being forced into finding someone new or risking having our medical records being sucked into some black hole.  The Mr and I both agreed that this time, we wanted to go the DO route.  Of course the first three choices weren't accepting new patients despite their websites saying they were.  By the time I got to the 6th one, she was accepting new patients.     Our thought was we could just get our physicals done, get a feel for how we like her and the whole DO experience.  It's important for us to have someone that isn't just going to try to throw meds at something that diet or more natural methods could also treat.  She's 56 years old so I may keep checking back with my first choices each year for openings.  Nothing at all against her before I even meet her but she's within 5 years of possible retirement and I'd prefer someone that we can go the long haul with.  Of course no one would've thought that a 48 year old seemingly healthy woman would have a stroke but you know what I mean.

So for those of you wondering what the difference between an MD and DO truly is, here is what I've found in my own research.
  • An MD is a doctor of medicine (allopathic aka Western medicine) and a DO is a doctor of osteopathic medicine.  Both do the same residencies, training, licensed in every state and have the same responsibilities.
  • Traditionally, an MD is more likely to look at your symptoms only.  A DO is likely to be literally more hands on by doing an exam where they actually feel the area of distress.  Studies suggest that more MD's are embracing a DO philosophy so the difference may soon be indistinguishable.
  • A DO is given osteopathic manipulative medicine courses (300-500 hours) in their 3rd or 4th year to learn the skeletal system and the interactions of your body with diseases.  This is typically a two month training period where they learn spinal manipulation like a chiropractor as means to diagnose, treat or prevent injury or illness.  This does not mean that you will likely get adjusted as part of treatment as it's becoming rare for them to use that but the knowledge of it is comforting as an extra tool in the diagnosing arsenal.
So I'm hoping after today we will have a doctor we feel comfortable with and fingers crossed all blood tests and such come back normal.

Do you have an MD or a DO?  How often do you go to the doctor?

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Sources for info:
Comparison of MD and DO in the US

The difference between an M.D. and D.O.
Difference Between MD and DO


  1. I was very surprised and saddened when we got the news about our doctor having to cut her career short, especially at a young age. This is despite the fact that we were going to leave her practice anyway. I hope that we get lucky and find ourselves a great doctor who will take good care of us because it's obvious that there are not too many other doctors taking on new patients around here. But I do like your strategy of looking out for another one just in case ours decides to retire early or something.

  2. I love my doctor! I found her online years ago. At one point she stopped taking hmo so I floated around for a few years until I switched companies and got in a ppo plan. She actually makes me feel like she cares about me and takes her time with me. I also have her cell phone number and text her with questions. Our company now has a nurse practitioner on site that is free and can prescribe meds. This preserves the hsa and fsa for larger issues. I used to see her twice a year but now only once to keep costs down. Our insurance is really cheap but you get what you pay for. We are required to have annual on site screenings in order to get the insurance.

  3. Unless I want to go out of town for every doctor's appointment I don't have a lot of choices. I do like my doctor, and I don't mind seeing a PA when I go in for a sinus infection or something. My big problem is that every time I go in I have to wait. Last time it was an hour wait followed by 5 minutes with the PA to tell me I had a sinus infection. The time before was a 45 minute wait and then about 10 minutes spent with both my son and I (we had the same junk). I don't think there is a DO in town, but the OBGYN I've been seeing uses the whole body approach and spends a lot of time with her patients. Unfortunately she moved to Bangladesh to be a missionary so next year I'll have to see someone new.

  4. I have a DO and it's the only route I'll go after years of cookie-cutter doctors. I've always looked at is as an MD treats the symptoms and a DO treats the whole body. I've had good MD's who are specialists and I'm ok with that, but for my primary I'm DO all the way.


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