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5 Steps to Building a Partnership with Your Dermatologist

Medically reviewed by Brenda B. Spriggs, MD, MPH, FACP on February 1, 2018Written by Catherine Lovering on February 1, 2018
dermatologist partnership

Living with a chronic condition like psoriasis involves ongoing care and discussion with your doctor. Building trust is important to ensuring the quality of your care. According to a recent study, trust has long been known in medical circles to have an indirect influence on health outcomes.

Given the importance of this relationship, finding the right dermatologist may be a challenge. Because you deserve top-quality care, you should strive to find a dermatologist who is willing to build trust through open communication.

Here are five steps to building a positive relationship.

1. Assess bedside manner

Many people experience anxiety and a feeling of vulnerability during their first visit with a dermatologist. This is normal for anyone living with psoriasis or a chronic medical condition. Most people want their doctor to put them at ease so they feel comfortable asking questions.

Before the appointment, identify what’s important to you in a doctor-patient relationship. For example, you may want to see lab results and get an in-depth explanation of what they mean for your psoriasis treatments. Sensitive and welcoming language, and your doctor’s demeanor during the appointment, may influence your decision to be under their care.

2. Assess qualifications

Dermatologists handle a variety of issues related to the skin. They may or may not have in-depth knowledge of psoriatic diseases. Ask your dermatologist about their experience and how often they treat people living with psoriasis. It’s important that they know the variety of treatment options available, given the severity of your symptoms.

If you don’t feel comfortable enough with the dermatologist’s level of experience, consider looking for another doctor. The National Psoriasis Foundation has a Health Care Provider Directory for this purpose. It may seem easier to stick with the first person you meet. but if you’re not comfortable discussing the deeply personal lifestyle issues associated with psoriasis with your doctor, it can have a negative impact on your long-term care.

3. Assess questions

Your dermatologist will ask you several intake questions during your first visit. Given that psoriasis is a main concern, your doctor should ask you questions about its effect on your life. It’s essential for your dermatologist to conduct a physical exam, but they should also ask about depression, anxiety, and other common issues associated with psoriasis.

At a basic level, you want to get a sense of how interested your dermatologist is in your overall health and wellness. Your lifestyle can influence the frequency of psoriasis triggers, such as stress. And because there are many treatment options, it’s important to have a doctor who thoroughly investigates the role psoriasis plays in your life before recommending any course of action.

4. Set expectations

After you’ve chosen a new dermatologist, it helps to be upfront about what you expect in terms of information and ongoing care. Psoriasis changes over time, and your medical needs won’t always the same, so the interpersonal relationship you have with your doctor is even more important. Set expectations early by being open about what resources you want to ensure your quality of life.

5. Keep up the conversation

Communication is a key element in developing trust with a new dermatologist. You should feel comfortable telling them if a new treatment isn’t working, or if you’re experiencing stress or unexpected symptoms. With a commitment to open communication, you can work with your doctor to choose treatment plans and support your overall well-being.

The takeaway

A crucial step in managing a chronic condition like psoriasis is developing a positive relationship with your dermatologist. They should be willing to discuss all of the ways psoriasis impacts your life, and how those impacts change over time. Together you can work toward a more complete experience of wellness.

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