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Changing doctors

A girl standing with her doctor.

How do you know if you need to change doctors? If you are uncomfortable around your doctor or are not getting the information you need, it might be time for you and your parents to talk about changing. As a patient, you have the right to a doctor who:

  • Talks directly to you, not just your parent or guardian
  • Involves you in making choices about your care
  • Listens to you and tries to answer all of your questions
  • Is willing to talk about different types of treatments, not just one
  • Learns about new research and advances, such as a new medicine that treats your illness or gets rid of pain caused by your disability

If you have tried to be patient and ask good questions, but your doctor still isn’t doing those things, it may be time to find a new one. Some tips to help you find a new doctor are below.

New doctors as you get older top

You may need to change doctors as you grow up. Many young people stop seeing a pediatrician between ages 18 and 21. Some patients see an adolescent medicine specialist before switching from a pediatrician to adult care.

Of course, it can be really hard to give up a doctor you have known a long time. But it’s important to get the right kind of care. Sometimes a condition requires a lot of special knowledge to treat, so you need to find someone who specializes in it. Sometimes, a doctor who only treats young kids may not offer help with issues like getting your period and other changes around puberty. Ask your current health care team when and how to make the switch to adult care.

As you plan any transitions, you can think about:

  • What you want in a new doctor, including things like where the office is and whether the doctor is a man or a woman
  • Any possible concerns — and who on your health care team can help
  • Making sure your current doctor works with the new doctor to share important information

Keep in mind that if the new doctor doesn’t work out, you always have the option of switching to someone else.

How do you find a new doctor? top

When looking for a doctor, you and your parents or guardian should:

  • Ask the doctor you have now for names of others who help patients like you. Your parents or guardian can talk to your doctor alone if being there makes you uneasy.
  • Ask other people who share your illness or disability if they are happy with their doctors.
  • Call your local hospital and ask for the names of doctors who treat your illness or disability.
  • Call a national organization that helps people with your illness or disability to find the names of doctors close to where you live. Find more information about different organizations dealing with many illnesses and disabilities.
  • Check to see that the doctor you pick is a part of your health insurance plan.

Your doctors are part of your health care team, along with other caregivers, your parents or guardians, and you. Everyone else is there to help you, and it is important that you are comfortable.

 

Content last reviewed February 16, 2011
Page last updated October 31, 2013

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