Who knows you best? Your partner? Your best friend? Your mother?
Surprisingly enough, your primary care doctor should be on this list.
Over time, your primary doctor learns the nuances of your medical history. This includes any reactions to medications, your treatment preferences, lifestyle, and even your personality.
So, what should you look for in a doctor? What are some red flags? How do you even find one?
We have the answers. Here are seven main factors to consider when choosing a doctor.
1. Start with a List of Approved Doctors
First things first: If you have one, review your health insurance policy. There may be restrictions on whom you may select as your doctor.
Be sure to check with your insurance carrier for an approved list of doctors before you start your search.
2. What Are Some Important Factors to You?
There are many important factors to consider when choosing a doctor. The age or gender of your doctor could be one of them.
Would you prefer an older doctor who may have more experience than a recently graduated physician? Or do you think a younger doctor might be more up to date with current medical practices and technology?
Do you want a physician you can build a long-term relationship with? If so, you may want to double-check if the physician you choose is planning on retiring any time soon.
Also, you may think you would be comfortable with a doctor of either gender, but give it some thought. If an embarrassing or personal medical condition arises, would you be more comfortable talking with a male doctor or a female doctor?
The same goes for medical examinations such as prostate exams or pap smears. Would you be more comfortable with a doctor of the same gender or the opposite sex?
3. Looking for a Specialist? Do Your Homework
If you’re in search of a specialist, ask yourself whether or not you would like them to be board-certified in that specialty.
Board-certification isn’t necessary, but it means that the doctor has taken an extra interest in that area of medicine. They’ll typically possess a higher level of training and experience. It also means that they passed specific examinations and have taken additional education courses in that field.
The American Board of Medical Specialties provides a website called Certification Matters where you can check a doctor’s certification status online.
4. Are the Doctor’s Work Hours Compatible with Yours?
Most doctors only have specific limited periods of time each day or week that they see patients. It is important to take note of the doctor’s available hours and days.
You may only have weekends off from work, but the doctor is only at their office on weekdays. Also, take note if the office is located in a convenient location.
If it isn’t, you can always ask the doctor if he or she is affiliated with any other hospitals or clinics closer to you.
5. Do (More) Research
Do you happen to know anyone who is a former or current patient of that physician? Ask them for their honest opinion of that doctor, along with the care and attention they’ve received.
There are also countless websites available where you can find reviews on doctors. Pay close attention to reviews left by previous patients because these reviews will often answer any questions you may already have. Doing your research will also help eliminate some doctors from your list.
When reading reviews while picking a doctor, take note of descriptions of the doctor’s bedside manner.
Do you want someone who is serious and all business? Or would prefer someone who has a more personal approach and takes the time to ask about your personal life and family before discussing your health?
Does the doctor answer your questions with no hesitation and in a way that you can understand? Or do they seem annoyed and short when you ask them a question?
6. Does the Doctor Respect You and Your Opinions?
Just because the doctor is the one with the medical knowledge doesn’t take away from the fact that you’re the one with the medical need.
It is essential you feel comfortable voicing out your opinions and concerns with your doctor. If you feel like your concerns are falling on deaf ears, then they may not be the right physician for you.
The American Academy of Family Physicians suggests that you ask yourself the following questions after your first appointment:
- Did you feel at ease with this doctor?
- Did you have enough time to ask questions?
- Did he or she answer all of your questions?
- Did he or she explain things in a way you understood?
Always trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right or seems off, trust your gut and look for a new doctor.
7. Can You Trust the Doctor?
Trusting your doctor is crucial. When you’re sick, injured, or especially hospitalized, you place your life in your doctor’s hands. This is why you must place an extraordinary amount of trust in your doctor.
Do you trust this person to understand your condition and treat you with a high standard of care? Do you trust them to listen to your wishes concerning your health treatment? Do you trust them to protect the privacy of your health care information?
Ask yourself these important questions before choosing a doctor.
Choosing a Doctor? Trust Your Gut
Over time, your primary doctor learns the nuances of your medical history. Ideally, your primary doctor becomes one of the people in your life that knows you best.
That’s why choosing a doctor that’s right for you is so important. Use the questions above in your search to help you choose the best physician for your needs.
If you’re in search of a doctor, we hope you found our guide helpful. For more articles like this one, be sure to check out our blog.