When choosing a new doctor for yourself, your child or someone you’re a caregiver to it’s important to do your research and take the time to find a doctor who you trust and can rely on. Your primary care doctor is the doctor you’ll visit most for routine screenings, wellness checks, and illnesses and should be someone who you should be able to have honest conversations with, and who can meet all of your medical needs. Your relationship with your doctor is one that can last years and even decades, which is why it’s essential that you choose someone who you trust and feel comfortable with.
In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about choosing a doctor that’s right for you or someone you care about.
1. Ask yourself the important questions
During your search for your new doctor, ask yourself some important questions that will help you narrow down your search. Here are a few questions to ask yourself while looking for a new doctor:
- Which hospital does the doctor use?
- Is the doctor currently accepting new patients?
- Does the doctor have the experience and the expertise to treat your medical conditions?
- Is the doctor in good standing with the state’s licensing agency?
- Does the doctor offer evening, weekend, or virtual appointments?
- How long will it take to get an appointment?
- Where are routine lab tests and x-rays performed? Can they be done in the office, and if not, where is the lab located?
2. Seek out recommendations from friends and family
Getting a recommendation from someone that you trust is an easy way to find a doctor. Ask your family members, friends, coworkers, or neighbors if they have a doctor they like and trust. If they have good things to say about their doctor and would recommend them to you, this can be a great place to start. If you’re changing doctors because of a move, ask your doctor if they have any recommendations for doctors in your new area.
3. Check your insurance company
Before you choose a new doctor, check with your insurance company to find out what your options are. Some insurance plans may require you to choose from a list of doctors that are in your plan’s network who take your insurance plan. You may be able to choose a doctor outside of this network for an additional cost, depending on your plan. Make sure to check the terms of your insurance plan to know what your plan covers during doctor’s visits and which doctors are available to you.
4. Find a doctor that meets your health needs
Now that you know which doctors are in your network, you can narrow your list down to doctors with the right expertise who meet your health needs. There are several types of doctors that are primary care physicians that you can visit.
A family practice physician can treat patients of all ages, from newborns to elderly patients. They can treat a variety of conditions and can provide you with referrals to see a specialist when needed.
A general practice physician is similar to a family practice physician and can treat patients of any age. Some also work as osteopaths, which are physicians that practice alternative medicine, with a focus on the musculoskeletal system. An osteopath will have “D.O.” after their name instead of “M.D.”
A pediatrician is a physician who specializes in treating infants and children. A pediatrician examines children regularly to assess their growth and development, and can also administer treatment, medication, therapy, vaccination, and other medical care to treat or prevent illness, injury, and disease.
An internal medicine physician treats adults and specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and management of diseases and chronic conditions. They are specially trained to care for seriously ill patients who suffer from advanced illnesses and diseases of more than one system.
5. Plan a visit to the doctor’s office
One of the best ways to get a feel for a new doctor is to schedule a face-to-face visit in their office. Once you have made your choice, schedule a visit with the doctor to discuss your medical history and medical profile. Once at the office, be mindful of how you feel in the environment. Are the receptionists friendly and welcoming? Do you feel comfortable in the office? How long does it take for you to see the doctor?
When meeting with your doctor, talk about your past medical history, current medications, and any other information you want to share. Make sure that you’re on the same page as your doctor, and that you feel comfortable having an honest conversation with them.
Choosing your doctor is an important task that can dictate how your future medical appointments, screenings, and wellness checks will look. When you feel you’ve chosen your new doctor, follow these tips to ensure that you’ve picked a doctor that’s right for you and your unique needs.