The Doctor Will Not See You Now

bad doctor md

I am 37 years old.  I have been going to the gynecologist for about 20 years.  During that time I graduated from high school and college, started a career, got married, gave birth to twins, tried many different forms of birth control and brands of birth control pills, and changed doctors 4 times.  One thing has remained the same in all these years of my “women’s” health care – I always saw a doctor, a Board Certified, Medical School Degree, diploma hanging on the wall doctor.  This year I went through the usual ridiculous measures that you need to take in order to see an OB/GYN in a busy Manhattan practice.  I called 3 months in advance of my desired date and, after much conferring with the receptionist,  got an appointment for my annual check up 4 months later.   All set right?   Well, no…

Last week I came home to a message from the receptionist telling me that my appointment time will have to be changed to 5:30 pm.  In other words I will have to get a babysitter so that I can go to the doctor.  When I called back to figure out a new time during the school day I was told the next available time would be 2 months later.  Or, the receptionist informed me, I could see the PA next week.   The what?  The Physician’s Assistant, like this was the most normal option in the world.  Turns out the Physician’s Assistant could do an exam, a Pap smear even prescribe drugs.  Just like a doctor, the receptionist cheerily told me, except she didn’t go to Medical School.

Now, maybe I’m crazy.  Or maybe as the daughter of a doctor this just smacks of the further denigration of respect for what doctors do, but isn’t that part about going to Medical School kind of important?  I’m sure a PA has been well trained and can help a doctor “see” more patients than she would normally be able to, but when I go to my doctor for a check up – a very personal check up I should add – I don’t think its too much to ask to actually see my doctor.  My vetted, carefully chosen, highly recommended doctor.  Isn’t that relationship important?  I feel like checking in with my doctor once a year is not just about the actual exam and subsequent lab tests, but about the yearly catch up.  How am I doing?  Am I thinking about having another baby?  Am I happy with the birth control we decided on last year?  How’s my marriage?  Any personal issues that I would only discuss with my OB/GYN like sex or post pregnancy blues, or other things that are so easy to talk about when you’re in that office with a doctor dedicated to women’s health suddenly become shunted to the side.

I’ve come to realize that now that I am not going to have any more children and fall into the GYN side not the OB side I warrant less attention in my doctor’s practice.  But, I want to know why a woman is less worthy of a Medical Doctor’s time because her appointment is “routine” instead of prenatal.  So I told the receptionist that I would not like to see the PA.  I will get a babysitter or have my husband come home early so that I can have an actual in person appointment with my doctor.  And I have to say this has made me rethink my doctor herself.  I will probably start looking for a new doctor, maybe one without the hyphen -OB, and one who thinks that a check up is an opportunity to check in.

This post originally appeared at nycmomsblog

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