Make Sure Your MS Healthcare Team Revolves Around You
By: Nurse Kim
Is your neurologist affiliated with a well-known hospital or come highly recommended by other healthcare providers in the multiple sclerosis field? That’s a good sign. But of what? A neurologist can specialize in MS and have a great reputation, but that doesn’t mean they’re always the best fit for you. What you really need to ask yourself is: “Are you seeing the right multiple sclerosis specialist for you?” There are several questions you need consider when making sure you have the right MS specialist.
Does your neurologist specialize in Multiple Sclerosis?
There are multiple areas of study in neurology and while some neurologists decide to specialize in one area or another, others prefer to remain generalists who see patients with a variety of conditions. MS Specialists are neurologists who specialize in multiple sclerosis and completed a fellowship or an intensive program focusing on MS. Specialists gain a much deeper understanding and are more familiar with the various challenges people with MS can face. Think of it this way. If you had the choice between a Pastry Chef and an Executive Chef baking your next birthday cake, which one are you going to choose? They both know how to bake, but it’s the Pastry Chef who has made baking his/her expertise. If you choose the Pastry Chef, you know it’s going to be one awesome birthday cake.
Does your neurologist consider your individual needs?
This question is important because it says something about your neurologist’s MS treatment philosophy. We’ve all heard the saying before: My MS is not your MS. Each person’s MS is unique and should be treated that way. If your healthcare provider is prescribing a variety of different relapsing MS therapies depending on each patient’s needs, it’s a good sign that you will be evaluated on what works for you as a whole, and prescribed a treatment based on your individual needs and goals.
Whether you’re just starting therapy or ready to try something new, you need to know that your neurologist is familiar with all the treatment options and prescribes these options according to an individual patient’s needs.
How’s your connection?
The working relationship you and your HCP have is really important. Now don't get me wrong, this isn't about chemistry. If you don't feel like you're being heard or feel that your neurologist has the time to get a full picture of your health, it's absolutely time to switch. Try asking someone you know who also has MS if they like their neurologist. Then ask them why. Another option is to try attending a local MS group to hear other people’s experiences with their healthcare providers. People who love their neurologists usually can't keep quiet about them and are happy to refer others.
There are also helpful search tools you can use to find a neurologist on sites like the American Academy of Neurologists and The National Multiple Sclerosis Society. In my book, if you are living with MS, not having a good relationship with your neurologist is simply not an option. It’s a smart idea to do your research if you're not getting the care you need.
- Find a neurologist who specializes in MS. A deeper understanding of MS can make all the difference.
- One size does not fit all when it comes to relapsing MS treatments. Your neurologist should be willing to find the right treatment for you.
- Having a good relationship with your neurologist is important. Don't be afraid to start looking for someone new if it's not working out.