How to Choose an Endo
Every person on earth who is mindful and proactive about their health has to deal with a multitude of doctors who specialize in different areas. The type of specialist that not everyone has to deal with, however, unless you happen to have type 1 or type 2 diabetes (or other issues related to the endocrine system), is an endocrinologist.
Spoiler alert: not all endos are created equal. Here is a little guidance on how to choose the right endocrinologist for you.
What’s an endo?
An endocrinologist (“endo” for short) is a doctor who specializes in treating disorders of the endocrine system. They know pretty much everything about the body’s glands and the hormones that they produce. This can range from all forms of diabetes to thyroid disease to other issues that can be as common as insomnia.
Those diagnosed with type 1 diabetes may be assigned to an endocrinologist after the initial hospital visit through their chosen healthcare provider and/or insurance. Otherwise, it might be up to the individual to seek out a qualified endo to advise and support the rest of their journey as a person with diabetes. Some newly-diagnosed patients may choose to stay with their first endo and may never even realize that there are other doctors out there that might be a better fit.
An endo that doesn’t seem to want to entertain your opinions every time you ask about new technology or constantly makes you feel guilty about numbers when you know you’re working hard to manage your diabetes might not be the best match. Everyone is different, but if you feel like aren’t being heard or that your personal needs or preferences go unnoticed, don’t be afraid to look around and potentially make a change.
What to look for
A great endocrinologist will always see you as an individual. Some doctors tend to operate in a fashion that may make the patient feel as if everyone living with their particular type of diabetes is the same, and will be given the same or very similar approach. This is not what you want. As we all probably know by now, there are so many ways to manage diabetes. No body is the same and nobody’s lifestyle will match anyone else’s exactly. We want our endos to acknowledge that completely, and to be willing to spend the time and energy to do as much trial and error needed to find the right fit for us.
Having a reliable way to reach out to your endo with non-urgent questions or concerns and receive a response in a timely manner is also a key quality to look for in your search. A good care team that is backing up your endo is a great perk as well. Many people living with diabetes will form important bonds with their nurses, PAs (physician’s assistants) and/or CDEs (Certified Diabetes Educators). Usually, you will be able to sense the dynamic within the office fairly quickly.
Another thing to consider, and it might seem obvious but is still worth noting, is to make sure that your insurance is accepted in the office of whichever doctor you choose. It is also a good idea to take note of the diabetes technology that may appear to be preferred within the office, (pumps, continuous glucose monitors (CGMs), etc) and if they are in line with what you are looking to explore.
Using your resources
Much like diabetes management, there is no one way to find the perfect endo for you. Look up ratings of various doctors from reputable websites. Read the comments and try to get a sense of other people’s experiences based on the comments, and trust your gut. Ask your general practitioner or other trusted specialist if they have any strong recommendations in their circle.
If you have been lucky enough to connect with other folks living with diabetes, ask around! Get advice from the diabetes community around you, whether it be in person or via social media. Now, more than ever, the type 1 and type 2 communities are more than willing to help and support those who are newly diagnosed.
Check out a related piece—The Power of Self Advocacy.