How long have you had to wait to see a specialist?

Hi, everybody. It’s Leigh Ann Hubbard, managing editor of James Hubbard’s My Family Doctor. I’ve hijacked the blog for a sec.

We need your help. We’re discussing an upcoming article on moles. It covers what to do if you can’t get in to see a dermatologist. But there’s been a suggestion that that’s not even a concern. Is it?

In our experience, you generally have to wait a month or three to see a dermatologist, at least in some areas of the country. But another doctor says that if you tell the office you have a changing mole, you can get in quickly. Can you help us out by sharing your experience with specialists (dermatologists and otherwise)?

Some questions to consider:

  • How long have you had to wait when you had a serious concern (such as about cancer)?
  • Was there a wait list in case of cancellations?
  • Did you make the call or your doctor?
  • If you made the call, did you try to get in sooner by talking to a nurse or seeing your family doctor? Did that work?
  • What part of the country are you in (if you’re comfortable sharing)? And are you in a big city or small town?

Thank you very much in advance for your help!

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12 Responses to “How long have you had to wait to see a specialist?”

  1. lhubbard Says:

    My experience: I had to wait a month to see a dermatologist. I called and told the office I had a mole I was concerned about, but I didn’t talk to a nurse. They couldn’t get me in sooner and didn’t have a wait list. I’m in a relatively big city in the Midwest.

    Leigh Ann Hubbard
    Managing Editor
    James Hubbard’s My Family Doctor

  2. James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Says:

    In areas I’ve worked, the specialist office, derm or otherwise, will often tell patient to see PCP initially who can then call and talk to specialist if needed.
    However, I only see the ones told this. I don’t know how many are actually able to get in directly and quickly.

  3. cathy Says:

    I’m in a small town in northern Wyoming. Around here, it takes about 4 months (or more) to get an appt with a dermatologist (unless your regular doctor deems an appt immediately necessary – then you get in right away). It took us 3 months to see a pediatric gastroenterologist for my daughter in Salt Lake City, and 6 weeks to see one for my son in Baton Rouge. A visit to the allergist generally results in an appt 6 weeks out. We had a same day visit to a pediatric cardiologist for my son in Baton Rouge as well.

    My experience has been that if the problem is SEVERE, strings can be pulled to see a specialist quickly. Otherwise, be prepared to wait weeks to months – especially if you don’t live in a metropolis.

    cathys last blog post..Wraps – my favorite lunch

  4. LizS Says:

    My personal experience has not been a long wait but I’ve read about this before. Cosmetics has taken over and routine procedures now take the back seat. Of course, the bottom line is driving this pattern.

  5. Lauren Says:

    I live in the greater Indianapolis area and found a dermatologist just up the road from my home. I checked out their Web site and called – mentioning my concern over two moles that had really been bothering me lately. I had an appt. within two weeks of that phone call and my follow-up appointments were great. I’ve recommended the doctor to numerous friends since!

  6. Cathy Says:

    I am in a smallish town in WC Ohio. I called the office directly and got an appointment scheduled for less than 2 weeks. I was surprised as this is the only derm office in town. The office was packed when I got there but things moved quickly.

  7. @pprhf Says:

    As a two time Melanoma patient I have had more derm apts. than I care to and I will say there is ALWAYS a wait. It took me 6 months to get in to see someone at MGH after I moved back to the Boston-area. My sister-in-law just had a mole she was questioning and she couldn’t get in for months so she had to see her PCP for it.

  8. lhubbard Says:

    Thank you guys so much for sharing your experiences. It sounds like they’re quite varied. Keep ‘em coming! This is very helpful.

    Leigh Ann Hubbard
    Managing Editor
    James Hubbard’s My Family Doctor

  9. Peggikaye Says:

    How long have you had to wait when you had a serious concern (such as about cancer)?
    1st referral was over 2 months. That mole turned out to be pre cancerous. I’ve never had to wait more than a week since that mole. Later, about 8 years later, a mole turned out to be melanoma. When I got a new derm (mine moved) I got in within 10 days of getting referral. I think it scares them when it comes out to be true.

    Was there a wait list in case of cancellations?
    no, there was not.
    Did you make the call or your doctor?
    I did with first call, when I found the 2 month wait, he called to see if I could get in sooner because it was ‘honestly suspicious’ and they said “no, 2 months is earliest”

    If you made the call, did you try to get in sooner by talking to a nurse or seeing your family doctor? Did that work?
    It was family doc who told me to go

    What part of the country are you in (if you’re comfortable sharing)? And are you in a big city or small town?
    Tulsa

    History …. sun worshipping as child/teen/young adult .. complete with sleeping in sun while working night shift; baby oil w/iodine; no sunscreen (why baby oil?)
    parent with skin cancer
    high risk medications (Imuran first, then Cellcept, now Imuran ..as well as long term prednisone)

  10. Peggikaye Says:

    My personal experience has not been a long wait but I’ve read about this before. Cosmetics has taken over and routine procedures now take the back seat. Of course, the bottom line is driving this pattern.

    Liz I think this is very true. I try to stick with Derms who specialize in skin disorders rather than going to a DERM. That way they take it seriously. One who does general derm is also doing a lot of cosmetic ..which brings in the dough.

    Get one that specializes in cancer, or autoimmune skin diseases, acne ..etc ..you’re going to get in faster!

  11. lhubbard Says:

    Peggikaye, thank you so much for sharing your experiences and tip. That’s interesting. I might try that next time. Once, I saw a dermatologist who had just switched her practice to focus on cosmetics. I felt she barely even saw me–much less my moles–during the exam. She seemed to want to get out of there as fast as she could. Needless to say, I didn’t go back to her.

    Leigh Ann Hubbard
    Managing Editor
    James Hubbard’s My Family Doctor

  12. lhubbard Says:

    Everyone: Your comments have been invaluable. I really appreciate your taking the time to tell your stories. It’s very kind and generous of you and helps us better know how to shape the article.

    Best wishes for fantastic health,

    Leigh Ann Hubbard
    Managing Editor
    James Hubbard’s My Family Doctor

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