Finding a Pdoc Who Will Take New Patients?
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Q:  Finding a Pdoc Who Will Take New Patients?

I have recently moved to Ohio from Illinois and cannot find a psychiatrist who will take new patients.  My insurance company has tried and has also not been successful.  I do not feel well and I am afraid.  How can I find a good doctor that knows what he is doing or even ANY doctor that will take care of my needs?  My family physician is out of the question since he thinks that most of my problem is spiritual and not physical.  I need some ideas, PLEASE!  I have noted that you also do not take new patients so maybe you know what would induce you (if anything) to be persuaded to take on a new patient.

Dear Ms. P' -- 
I see patients for the family doc's in whose building I work; the flow from their practice keeps me full so that I have to post official notices such as you saw ("sorry, not taking new patients or consultations"). If you got lucky you might find a primary care doctor who has a pipeline to a psychiatrist. Otherwise you might just try a new family doc'. Some have gotten quite good at treating bipolarity (by necessity, as many of them cannot find a psychiatrist who will take their referrals either). 

I've tried to put everything I know about treating bipolar disorders on my website and in my book so that primary care doc's who don't feel like they know what they're doing can work from my notes and give it a go when there's no one else around who can. So if you found even a willing primary care doc, as opposed to a skilled one, that's another alternative: bring her my book and my website address.  Mind you, there are probably relatively few primary care doc's who would go for this approach; but probably more than there are psychiatrists who are taking new patients. 

Finally, there's one more strategy I recommend to folks in Corvallis: put yourself on the waiting list of the best doc' or two whom you can find (several in Corvallis are taking patients to be seen six months hence, for example) and then scratch along as best you can, including getting a primary care doc' to try a strategy or two knowing that's all she has to do, just a trial of one or two medication approaches, while you are waiting. 

In the meantime, you'd want of course to maximize all the non-medication tools. Several are discussed at some length in my book and more briefly on the website, including light therapies and "dark therapy"; exercise; psychotherapy; making sure your thyroid is working fine; fish oils; and keeping a very regular personal schedule. On that list the one least fully utilized, in almost all the folks I've seen, is exercise. Just trying to optimize that could take you the better part of a six month wait (remember, it worked as well as Zoloft in one study -- and better in the long run in that same study, which is cited on my website along with several other encouragements...)

Good luck with all that. Why is Psychiatry still the least chosen specialty by graduating medical students? That is one big part of the problem. 

Dr. Phelps

Published Sept. 2006


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