Timely Medical Treatment

How do US mariners obtain timely medical treatment before they need to go to sea again?

Doctors, particularly specialists, expect patients to wait a month or two for a meet and greet appointment, weeks more for tests, and then another month or two for actual treatment.

Doctors assume than everyone works 9-5 in an office, and can leave work anytime for treatment at the doctor’s convenience. Doctors either refuse to understand, or simply don’t care, that Mariners need treatment before they go back to sea.

How do we get around this?

If you have a regular doctor, (And nothing serious) many are going to virtual appointments. Come in later to get bloodwork. That may or may not be a faster route.

Drop a couple hundred dollar bills with the front office girls and the duty nurse. The doctor isn’t the one making your appointments.


Doctor shop until you find one willing to work with you. Or leave a bad review for the one you are using now & use stolen honor terms like, “marchant marine”, “return to sevrice” blah, blah, blah & someone from the front desk should contact you looking to be more accommodating to get the bad review removed. When I use the term, “merchant mariner” many in my landlocked state thinks I’m a Marine & go out of the way to get it done. When I use that term, I constantly have to explain the difference between Marine & Merchant Mariner.

I’m pretty blessed here to be around several walk-in clinics that do physicals. Speaking of which, I need to call Monday and see if that’s changed. My dread is sitting in a waiting room full of coughing and sneezing sick folks. Might go in with SCBA, lol

My regular doctor is easy to get in to see on short notice. He’s happy to provide prompt routine treatment or refer me to specialists.

Getting timely appointments and treatment by the specialists is the problem. These guys are booked out months in advance.

There must be some specialists that understand and will give some priority to mariners, but how to find them?

USCG extended expired medical certificates until year end, and may be extended further, so you can work on your expired domestic and STCW medical cert.

My certificates are in good order and I could pass the USCG physical to get new certificates tomorrow if I wanted to.

That does not change the fact that I need unrelated treatment by specialists, that I would like to have before I sail again.

I’m sure that I’m not the only mariner that has had problems obtaining timely specialist treatments to fit a seagoing schedule. I’d like to hear from other mariners that have learned how to overcome the typical medical obstacles.

Appeal to reason? Always woked for me. My dentist in particular has been very accommodating when I’ve showed up with a mouthful of African fillings and explained that I’m shipping back out in a few weeks.

1 Like

Routine dental treatment is usually fairly easy to obtain, especially if it’s expensive and you have cash.

Routine medical treatment from general practice doctors is easy to obtain if you have a steady regular doctor, or if you wait a few hours in one of the “doc-in-a-box” clinics.

It’s a lot more difficult to schedule if you need elaborate tests and surgery done by a specialist.

I do find that showing up at the doctors office with a referral and records and speaking with the doctor’s staff in person is more effective than calling on the phone. However, good specialists tend to be fully booked several months out.

The best way to get a quick appointment with a specialist is to be a regular. If I do something to a foot, I can usually get an appointment within 48 hours. It’s one the “perqs” of multiple surgeries. I usually can get in within a couple weeks for a planned appointment at my regular specialists.

The second best way to get a quick appointment is to be nice when you call for an appointment and ask to be put on their cancellation list.

If you have a regular specialist, then talk to the doc’s nurse, not the front office staff. If they want someone on the schedule, they will make it happen.

Again as others have said, it’s not the ‘doctors’ who are making you wait. They have little do with day to day scheduling.

1 Like

It’s been tough for me. I had to cancel appointments in order to take a last minute relief job, and then schedule stuff all over again. When you have to quarantine for several days prior, they don’t want you leaving the house.