Why can’t I find a doctor?
Mel Rising Dawn Cordeiro
Having trouble finding a primary doctor lately? Considering changing doctors? Having trouble getting an appointment? This is all for good reason. Since the onset of the pandemic, lots of things have changed, including the way doctors view their jobs.
It is not widely known, but doctors in primary care settings don’t make as much money as doctors who claim a speciality. Each specialty has its own rate of pay, but the reality of healthcare is that it’s more beneficial to the doctors to treat patients after they become ill than it is to practice preventative medicine. There are exceptions to this rule, however, such as with emergency and accidental situations.
More and more doctors are leaving primary medicine for a variety of reasons. One reason certainly has to do with the pay rate. In some cases, it has to do with the reimbursement rates from the insurance companies as well. The money is not there for doctors who have giant student loans to consider.
Burnout is also an important factor in deciding to leave primary practice. Even though this problem existed long before the pandemic started, the pandemic made burnout for everyone in the healthcare industry that much worse. Because of this, some primary care providers decided to leave medicine altogether.
There are a select number of primary care doctors who are still practicing. They have, however, taken a liking to practicing concierge medicine. In concierge medicine, there are plenty of appointments available, but the catch is that these doctors don’t take insurance. Eliminating the insurance billing process enables practices to save money, to be paid faster, and to pocket the costs of care.
These situations can be extremely detrimental to those without healthcare, to those who have limited access to resources to get to a doctor and to those people who are in need of seeing a physician due to illness, health concerns or because too much time has passed.
Even after “getting in” with a doctor, specialists included, the wait time can be extremely long. In some cases, the wait time for an appointment is over a year. The strain of this could force the seriously ill people to utilize urgent care centers and hospitals, putting more strain on our already overworked and overwhelmed healthcare system. In turn, a vicious cycle is created, one which can only be stopped by the addition of more primary care physicians.
For now, nurse practitioners and physician assistants are able to bear some of the load. This will not last either, as those professionals are putting themselves at risk for burnout as well. There are only so many hours one can work before exhaustion hits.
If considering or even being forced to switch primary care doctors, be sure to research physician choices. Find a trustworthy doctor, or ask for a recommendation. Some things to look for when choosing a new doctor include specialty – even primary care doctors have an area they are more comfortable with – years of experience and reviews from other patients. Always be active in personal care.
Finally, only use urgent care centers and hospitals as needed. Hospitals are still overflowing and overwhelmed, so it is advised to make use of other resources first. If you do happen to have health insurance, you can call the company’s main number and ask to be transferred to a nurse, as there is always one on staff to answer questions. Another resource is to make use of Health Services here on campus. They are here to answer any question you may have and provide sick visits as well. For more information, please call Health Services at 401-456-8055.