Woman shrugging in between two doctors, all sitting down.

Follow Your Intuition About a Doctor

Last updated: May 2021

Your doctor — be it your urologist, medical oncologist, radiologist, or other specialist treating you for bladder cancer — is your partner. He or she is there to help you through the illness, and hopefully come out healthy on the other side.

The first bladder cancer doctor you see

The first doctor you see for bladder cancer is likely based on circumstances. He/she may be a urologist to whom your primary care doctor referred you. There’s a good chance that he/she may be a community-based doctor in a local clinic. And that may end up being the doctor you stay with, and that’s fine. (Although I strongly recommend a second opinion from an NCI-designated facility; you can read my article about that here.)

But what if you don’t like your first doctor?

What if you just don’t feel right about this doctor? Maybe he/she seems too relaxed about your situation. Or maybe too negative. Or maybe you don’t feel he/she listens to you or answers your questions. Maybe that clinic seems to treat a lot of prostate cancer but you’re not so sure about bladder cancer.

I’m here to tell you: listen to that intuition. There is no requirement, no ethical obligation, no expectation that you must be treated by this doctor.

Weighing a doctor’s competency versus bedside manner

I have experienced it myself and I have heard other patients and caregivers lament that they really don’t like their doctor’s bedside manner but they think he/she is competent, so they are sticking with him/her.

After cycling through several medical oncologists when my husband had metastatic bladder cancer, I reached the conclusion that you should not feel you must sacrifice bedside manner for competence. There are plenty of doctors who excel at both. Your options may be more limited in a small town but even then, there’s a good chance you can find a doctor you like and have the care coordinated locally.

Red flags that this may not be the doctor for you

I have one major metric for helping you identify whether a doctor is right for you: how do you feel after a visit with that doctor?

Here are some ways you should NOT feel:

  • Frustrated because you didn’t actually see the doctor even though you thought you would
  • Rushed because the doctor comes in late and has to dash out quickly
  • Not listened to because the doctor is typing continuously while you talk
  • Not listened to because the doctor has not asked if you any questions
  • Disrespected because the doctor cuts you off while you’re talking
  • Confused because you didn’t understand the information provided and you didn’t have a chance to clarify

Good signs that your doctor may be a keeper

A good sign is if you feel entirely different than what I described above. When you leave the appointment, you feel:

  • That the doctor listened to you and respected your concerns
  • The doctor made eye contact and expressed empathy with your concerns
  • Comfortable with the agreed-upon next steps because you understand them and the doctor asked your opinion
  • The doctor asked you questions and answered them

Listen to yourself - this is your health and wellbeing at stake

I feel that too many patients fear switching doctors or even getting second opinions. Listen to yourself. This is your health and you have a right to expect the best treatment.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The BladderCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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