How to Choose a Doctor
Following is a list that will help you when selecting the best doctor for you and your family members:
Your primary concern when selecting a doctor should be his/her credentials. Some questions to consider are:
- Where did this doctor get his/her medical degree?
- Where did he/she do their residency?
- What does he/she specialize in?
- If you are looking for an integrative approach to your health care, is this doctor open to this approach?
- Would this doctor be the best doctor for all family members or should you look for another doctor for other family members? Keep in mind that each member of your family will have their own unique preferences and needs.
You will want to try to find a doctor who practices close to your home or work. This should not be your primary concern, but you will be more apt to see your doctor if it is not a hassle to get to his/her practice.
Questions to Ask
When you do get to his/her office, ask yourself some questions.
- Is he/she in a medical group so that when he/she goes on vacation there will be another doctor who will take his/her place while he/she is gone?
- How busy does the waiting room look? If too busy it might take longer to get an appointment with this doctor.
- Is his/her office staff friendly and helpful?
- Is the waiting room messy with uncomfortable seating and outdated magazines or is it comfortable, neat, and organized?
Check to see if the doctor you are interested in is included under your insurance plan’s network of doctors. If you are interested in a doctor that is not in your insurance network, check with your insurance company to see if they will make an exception for you with this particular doctor.
Often "word of mouth" is a good place to start looking for a doctor. If someone you know and respect recommends a doctor to you, do some research on this doctor. There are several websites that will help you select a doctor. Some of these websites include, but are not limited to:
Check to see what hospital your doctor is affiliated with, and then check out the hospital. You will want to pick a doctor who is affiliated with the best hospital in your area. Tour the hospital. If you have to be hospitalized in the future, your experience will be easier if you are familiar with the hospital. Make an appointment and meet with the doctor before you become sick. You will want to confirm that you have picked the right doctor before you have a problem.
Check to see how difficult it is to make an appointment with the doctor. If his/her practice is too busy, you may have a long time to wait for an appointment that you may find unacceptable. When you do make an appointment, does the doctor see you in a timely fashion or do you have to sit in the waiting room for a long time?
A good rapport and comfort level between the doctor and you is essential for the best medical care you can receive. If you have trouble communicating with the doctor, or he/she doesn’t seem to have the time to listen to your concerns, you need to look for another doctor. Some questions that you may want to ask yourself are:
- Do you prefer a male or a female doctor?
- Do you prefer a younger or older doctor?
- Do you have an easy rapport with your doctor?
- Does he/she listen to your concerns? If so, is he/she empathetic?
- If you are looking for a marriage of traditional medicine and alternative medicine, is this doctor open to this kind of practice?
It may take time and you may experience some “false starts,” ’but it is your duty to yourself to essentially “shop around” for the best doctor for your individual needs.