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Food for the Soul: Finding the Best Specialist for You

Jalilah J. | Pre-K Visual Arts Teacher

Actual Eczema Sufferer

I compare my relationship with my doctor to a restaurant that serves great food. The food tastes even better when it’s presented in the right way and from a waiter or waitress who serves you with joy. That’s what I appreciate about my doctor. She has the “food” I need, things like prescriptions, product recommendations, and new treatment options, but presents it all in a way that’s “digestible”—with care, love, and respect toward my condition and me as a person.

As a teacher, I know firsthand that one of the best recipes to serve my students is to always study and learn new approaches and techniques. One thing that separates my current dermatologist from my previous dermatologists is that she frequently travels to trainings to learn more about eczema and how she can better help me and other patients in her care. When I learned this, my respect and admiration for her grew so much more. Not only does she provide great literature, she takes the time to have a conversation with me, updates me on any new information from her trainings, and allows me to ask all the questions I want. And—believe it or not—the education my doctor provides makes me more patient with my skin. Even though my flares are somewhat unpredictable, my doctor keeps me informed and it makes a world of difference when it comes to coping with them.

Fortunately, I have found a specialist I am extremely grateful for, but, like a good meal, it took time. If you feel your appointments are rushed or you’re not being heard, I first recommend advocating for yourself. Try speaking with your doctor about how you are feeling. This conversation can be difficult, so find a technique that works best for you when voicing your concerns.

Eczema is frustrating in and of itself—you do not need to be frustrated with the one person who should be there for your betterment.

If you feel like something is not right, it may be time to seek out a new specialist. I know that switching doctors can be much like dating (you never know who they really are until your third or fourth “date,” or in this case, appointment), so I suggest asking trusted individuals for recommendations.

Before I chose my current specialist, I would carry a checklist of questions and qualities that were important to me to each appointment. Some of the questions I would ask included:

  1. Do you allot time for questions?
  2. Do you provide materials on my condition and treatment options?
  3. What is your general tone when speaking with patients?
  4. How will you help me cope with my eczema?
  5. How often do you attend trainings to learn more about eczema?
  6. How do you stay informed on the latest eczema treatments?

I know there are personal factors that come into play when searching for the right specialist, just like there are personal preferences when choosing a meal to order at a restaurant. Of course, what may be right for you may not be so important to someone else. But do know this—having the right specialist for you is possible and the end results can be well worth it.

Caregiver and patient stories reflect personal stories. Individual experiences may vary.