WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A PHYSICIAN
When it comes to doctors, you do have a choice—so why not pick one who is a good fit for you? If you have moved, have changed jobs, or are planning a family, it might be time to weigh your options.
Keep in mind when searching for a new doctor:
- Contact your health plan for a list of doctors who accept your type of insurance.
- Choose a doctor whose office is close to your home. You probably want a physician whose office is just an easy drive away.
- Pick a doctor who has privileges or is on staff at a hospital near you. This means your doctor can admit his or her patients to this hospital. Find out how long it usually takes to see the doctor for routine visits and urgent care.
- Ask the staff at the doctor’s office about office hours and policies, such as which doctors will cover for your physician when he or she is away.
- Ask if the doctor is board certified. This means that the doctor has proven his or her knowledge by completing a comprehensive exam.
Communication Is Key
You will not truly know whether a doctor is right for you until you meet face-to-face. Do not settle for a physician who makes you feel uncomfortable. Find a doctor who listens to you. Your physician should also spend time answering your questions—you should not feel rushed, even if the doctor is very busy. These communication issues are important. They help you build a relationship with your doctor based on respect.
How Do You Decide on a Doctor?
For many people, their main doctor is an internist or a family practitioner. These doctors have distinct training backgrounds. They care for different groups of patients. Here is the difference:
- Internists are specialists in adult medicine. These doctors focus on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases of the heart, blood, kidneys, skin, joints, and other areas. They can diagnose and treat a range of conditions. These include cancer, infections, mental health, and substance abuse issues in adults of all ages.
- Family practitioners provide care to children, teens, and adults. These doctors sometimes called family physicians—receive training in internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, and other areas. They can help prevent a range of health conditions. They may also provide maternity services.