I clearly remember the day I called my health clinic to request a new OB/GYN. I had been seeing my doctor for about a year, and I was at the point where I was hoping to become pregnant with our first child.
Before this “break-up call,” every time I met with my doctor, I didn’t feel like she took the time to hear my concerns, and it had gotten to the point where I felt like I couldn’t ask her questions without feeling like I was wasting her time.
When I found out I was pregnant, I knew I wanted an OB/GYN that would be with me every step of the way of a pregnancy. After speaking with a friend who highly recommended a doctor at the same clinic as my current doctor, I decided to make the call to switch doctors.
Within moments of requesting a new OB/GYN, I immediately felt this massive wave of guilt wash over me.
“Wait. What do you want to do?’ The nurse asked after I stated my request.
“I would like to work with a new doctor.”
“You want to change your doctor?” She asked me incredulously.
“Um, yes… “ I said, beginning to feel very nervous. I started wondering if I was the only one who’d ever made such a request before.
“Well, how do you think it’s going to make your current doctor feel?” She questioned.
As my shame quickly turned to anger, I replied curtly, “I don’t know. I’m not in control of her feelings. I need to change my doctor, or I will go somewhere else for my pregnancy. Can you help me with this or not?”
I honestly couldn’t believe how difficult the conversation became. Don’t people switch doctors all the time? Why was this such a big deal?
After a very uncomfortable few minutes (for both of us), the nurse switched me to a new OB/GYN, and it was the best decision I ever made.
My new OB/GYN, who has since retired, was a perfect fit for me: in addition to being extremely competent, she listened, was open to my ideas about my pregnancy, taught self-hypnosis strategies to all her patients and their partners, and was a wonderful patient advocate. I’m so happy I made the call to switch, even though getting through it was uncomfortable.
There are times when it’s okay to let go of a relationship when it’s not working, especially when it comes to our own wellness.
After the uncomfortable break-up call, I couldn’t help but think of my work as a psychologist. Over the years, I have worked with lots of people seeking out counseling services. I tend to build rapport easily with most clients, but I have had a handful of clients that end up going to someone else. I don’t take it personally. Likewise, if I view a client as being a better match for another therapist or specialist, I gladly refer them to someone else. Finding the right fit can be an important part of the process.
Studies show that building a strong rapport is one of the most significant predictors of success in therapy. A similar trend occurs in our relationships with our doctors. Trust, knowledge, warmth, and loyalty are leading factors in patient satisfaction for patients with their medical doctors.
As a psychologist, I want all individuals to live well and find the best fit to help them attain success with treatment. If that means working with me, that’s great. If it means finding a therapist they feel a stronger rapport with, that’s great as well.
I desire to see people do well in life, whether it’s working with me or someone else. And that’s an attribute I hope other professionals share.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you just dump all your doctors or therapists when you get uncomfortable.
This is especially true if you’ve been working with someone for a while, and they challenge you in ways that can ultimately be helpful for your growth. Some discomfort can be a necessary step towards positive change.
Also, some doctors aren’t always going to say what you want to hear, and that is okay. Maybe they’re telling you to eat healthier. Maybe they’re telling you to drink less. Maybe they’re telling you to exercise more. I believe it’s essential for us to listen to the hard stuff, be challenged, and disagree when we need to.
I also know that our health care choices are mostly up to us. We need to be our own advocates. Finding the right doctor or therapist to help us navigate through situations is a really important part of our journey to health and wellness.
As you work with medical health professionals through pregnancy and beyond, I want you to realize you have options. You have control over your health and wellness. You have choices and can make changes to your healthcare when you need to. And sometimes, this means breaking up with your doctor.