Getting an appointment with a dermatologist can be difficult at times. Nationwide, the average American wait time is 21 days for an appointment with a physician, but the wait time for a dermatologist can be much longer. In some parts of the country, the wait time can exceed 3 months. Here are 8 easy ways that may help you to secure an appointment with dermatologist sooner.
- Don’t wait to the last minute. If you don’t have a dermatologist or have never seen one in the past, it is a good idea to find a dermatologist to perform a complete skin exam and check for skin cancer. Every year more than 3.5 million new cases of skin cancers are diagnosed in the United States. Hopefully, you will have clean bill of health. This initial visit will establish a relationship with you and your dermatologist.
- Ask to be placed on a wait list. It’s not uncommon that patients cancel their doctor’s visit on the same day or a few days prior to their appointments. To quickly fill those open slots, most doctors offices have a wait list. Be prepared to provide the best contact number as well as email address to the staff. If you have an open and flexible schedule or live nearby the office, be sure to mention that information to the staff. They may more likely to call you instead of someone else, because of your flexibility.
- Are you willing to see another doctor in the same office? A busy practice will try to recruit new physicians to accommodate the increasing number of patients and shortened the wait time. If there is a new physician in the practice, chances are he or she may not have a full schedule. It may be easier to get an appointment with the new dermatologist for that emergency skin condition, such as a suspicious lesion on the arm that has recently changed in color and starts to bleed.
- You see a physician extender. Because of the shortage of dermatologists, most offices have physician extenders such nurse practitioner or physician’s assistants, who are under direct supervision of the physicians. For minor issues, the physician extenders can easily manage and take care of you. If the condition is more difficult, a physician may be brought into the exam room and consulted for their opinions.
- Ask to speak to a nurse. The administrative staff, such as a receptionist, or individuals who answer incoming phone calls and book appointments may not have the proper clinical knowledge or training to understand what is a medical emergency versus a routine skin condition. If you feel that you have an urgent medical condition that needs prompt care, it is a good idea to ask to speak to a nurse who can decide if you have an urgent situation or not. It’s important not to fake an emergency, because then you’re taking away valuable slots for other people who may be seriously ill.
- Mention your profession. If you work in the healthcare profession or settings, be sure to mention your profession to the staff. It’s a common courtesy practiced by many offices to accommodate the need of physicians, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. It’s important not to lie about your profession.
- Be kind to the nurses and receptionists. It is frustrating to wait a long time for your appointment. Please do not direct your frustration at the receptionist or the nurse who are trying to help you. If you are genuinely kind and nice to the staff, people in office will remember you and will go out of their way to help you. By the same token, if you’re nasty and rude, everyone will know as well.
Take time to get to know your physicians, nurses and other support staff. It is good to remember that your caregivers, in many ways, are just like you. Although they are there to serve and take care of you, make an effort to get to know them better on a deeper level. Some simple actions include remembering their names, be interested in their family members, and ask about their hobbies and interests. Those simple gestures along with sincere gratitude can go a long way to strengthen the relationship.
Obviously, these tips also work with getting an appointment with physicians of all specialties. So try those methods in getting an appointment with your doctor.