Health & Wellness

Tips on Curating Your Dream Medical Squad

After spending over two years in active treatment for breast cancer I’ve come to appreciate the significance of having a strong medical team. Thankfully, I have been fortunate to have had exceptional oncologists and breast surgeons during my treatment. Now that I am cancer-free, I find myself transitioning back to seeing my regular practitioners and making my regular doctor appointments, which is both relieving and exciting. The process of reconnecting with my regular doctors has had its challenges. Like anything in New York, finding available physicians with open appointments is often hard since they have appointments scheduled months in advance. To avoid delays, I found myself booking quickly with the first available doctors without doing much research.

The Dating Game

Selecting a new doctor is like dating. You don’t want someone who is always busy and has a terrible bedside manner, if you know what I mean. Most of the doctors that I saw last year had good reviews so I didn’t mind trying them out. My primary doctor was cool and knowledgeable but there were a few key things that I didn’t really like. Being the A+ student that I am, I submitted my health records to my insurance company for the cash reward. Once they reviewed my health score, I noticed that I got flagged for my cholesterol which to me was shocking because I eat pretty healthy. This was not something that the doctor pointed out so I left a message in the portal. She told me that the levels were low and I could fix it by eating more Omega-3 or changing my diet to a mediterranean diet. This was a bit concerning for me but I took her advice.

 I also saw a new gynecologist last year that was a part of this same hospital. Before I did my check up I asked if I could still get a pap-smear since I am a survivor, I want to do them every year. I waited to see the results in my portal but nothing came so I called them a few weeks later only to learn that I never got a pap-smear. I told them that I still wanted it and they assured me that it was ok for me to wait. Since my insurance only pays for one annual visit I didn’t push it more. I did however promise myself that I was not going back to them next year.

I also started seeing a new dentist that shocked me. When I originally set up my appointment it was with a different dentist; his wife. When I got into the office I was told that she was at the other location and he would see me. I didn’t have a problem with it but it seemed a little catfish-y if you ask me. I needed a few deep cleanings so I continued to see him. He was cool but I didn’t really like the way that he talked to some of his younger assistants. I also didn’t like how they tried to give me another x-ray only a few months later. After treatment I have been trying to limit x-rays when I can. Well it hadn’t been a horrible experience because I absolutely love the dental hygienist but when they told me I had to come in for maintenance cleanings every 3 months I decided that if I was going to be spending so much time with them that I was going to need to be happy. 

Building My List

These incidents  prompted me to reassess my healthcare providers. At the start of the year, I made a conscious decision  to build a new medical team from scratch. Regardless of the need for changing providers, and as long as they accepted my insuranceI was going to build my own medical dream squad. I started by asking a few friends and doctors for their referrals.  Then it was time to use a few of my online resources so I explored online platforms like Zoc Doc, Health in Her Hue, and specialized therapist directories.

Zoc Doc

I stumbled upon Zoc Doc many years ago when I first moved to NY. There were so many doctors and I wasn’t sure which ones were right for me. I love Zoc Doc because it’s easy to navigate. You can sort by providers who accept your insurance. The next best thing is that every doctor on the site has a rating given by patients. It doesn’t get any more real than this. You can actually review their comments and see what other people are saying about them. Now sometimes one person may have a bad experience and I don’t always go off on one bad review as a deal breaker, but if I do see several it does raise a flag for me. You can also look at the doctor’s availability and book right from the site. It’s so convenient. I have used this site to find most of my doctors over the last 10 years.  For more info: click here.

Health In Her Hue

I absolutely love Health in Her Hue, a site dedicated to helping women of color find the health care and support that they need.  I love websites that prioritize  to ensure our visibility and voices are heard. The site’s user-friendly interface incorporates key features focusing on community, content, and connection.

Community:  You can sign up and create a login to make it more personal for you. Once you create a login you can tap in and join a community. They have a Diverse groups, including emerging virtual care squads, providing an opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals, fostering a sense of relatability. The platform is continuously expanding this feature, offering excitement for those seeking a community that resonates with their experiences.

Content: As far as content they have a wealth of content, featuring articles crafted by professionals and advocates. These cover crucial topics for women, such as breast health, mental health, and maternity. They also have informative videos that help educate you on topics that matter.Throughout the year they also host various conversations and chats on social platforms, providing additional avenues for engagement.

Connection: They have a comprehensive directory that highlights doctors of color, simplifying the search process based on individual preferences. You can sort results by insurance, provider, and state. Each doctor has a detailed profile, along with reviews from other patients, which is what I always look for. The platform’s user-friendly design makes it easy to identify nearby doctors, making it a seamless connection between users and healthcare professionals. For more info click here.

Therapist of Color

I have been a big advocate of taking care of my mental health since I had a case of severe anxiety in my early twenties. Prioritizing my mental health has been a significant focus of mine since my early twenties when I experienced severe anxiety amid a traumatic period—my mother’s brain injury, navigating the challenges of my first year in grad school, and handling a highly stressful job. This prompted my initial step into therapy and since then I have used it to seek support during intensely stressful life situations. While I had a positive experience with a therapist during my breast cancer treatment, I eventually chose to conclude our sessions. Despite her excellence as a therapist, I felt like there were certain gaps in our connection concerning my spirituality and cultural background. In light of this, I decided to find a therapist more attuned to my personal background. Here are a few platforms I’ve utilized in my quest for a suitable therapist. 

  • is a great site that I have used to search for Black therapists. By using your address, the site efficiently presents nearby providers catering to your specific needs.
  • is another group of therapists that I highly recommend.Unfortunately, they don’t accept my insurance but I have used them before and they have some really amazing therapists. 
  • is a great site that is seamless to navigate and it features Black female therapist.You can search on an interactive map functionality allows for a targeted search, and the site offers an abundance of content and articles for users to explore.

Setting the Date

With your medical team selected and refined, it’s time to lock in those appointments by setting that date. I usually find the beginning of the year as my most productive time for scheduling these appointments. Depending on the physician, appointment availability may extend into the spring. This is why I am emphasizing the importance of not delaying the scheduling process. If you do happen to have an emergency condition, communicating this to your doctor allows for quicker arrangements that will ensure you receive timely care. Once the date is set, sharing your medical history and concerns with your doctor will be very important. As a breast cancer survivor, my intake forms now need to be filled out with more details, which is significant for me to convey to the new medical team. The more information they have, the better equipped they are to provide tailored and comforting care. Equally important is preparing questions for your new doctor, which will help you initiate effective self-advocacy.

Stay on Track

Now that you have seen all your doctors it’s important to stay on track.Prioritizing follow-ups, require some collaboration with your healthcare providers. Identifying your priorities by aligning with your doctor / dentist  will help you achieve preventive health. After two years of frequent appointments for myself helped me to strategically plan my appointments so that they don’t take up most of my vacation days. Understanding that there might be potential out-of-pocket costs, I strive to be mindful, addressing urgent matters like cavities to prevent dental issues from escalating. For less pressing concerns, such as replacing a crown, I try to make sure that I can be more strategic with budgeting, possibly utilizing a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), so that I won’t be at a deficit for the year.

Overall, it’s important to dedicate the time to curate your medical team. Finding doctors that prioritize your well being and those that make sure you are seen and heard are very important. It is also great to have a good rapport with your doctor, so a good bedside manner is very important. No one wants a mean doctor or one that intimidates you or makes you feel bad. Cheers to starting off a new year by prioritizing your health.