Today, with so many choices, it’s often difficult to know how to find a doctor who will be a good match. Hopefully, these four suggestions will get you on the right track.
- Friends: Certainly, one of the best ways to find a new doctor is from your friends. Ask a wide selection of friends for their recommendations. Keep in mind certain criteria that you have, and share the criteria with your friends. Are you willing to drive far, or do you want a doctor within a 5 mile radius of your home or work? Do you need someone who is gentle and warm, or someone who is more matter-of-fact? Do you want a small practice, or are you more comfortable if many doctors are available for consultations?
- Health Plan: Your health plan certainly has a list of recommended doctors. You can gather the list and start researching these specific doctors yourself. Find out which hospitals they are affiliated with and cross-check your list with a list of top doctor’s in your area. You can often find lists of this sort published in the newspaper or in local magazines. Visit a few doctors at their offices and get a sense for the size of their practices, the amount of time they spend with each patient and their overall view and outlook on medicine. Schedule an appointment with two or three of the doctors at the top of your list and make your decision based on your face-to-face meetings.
- Online Doctor Reviews: The internet has a wealth of information for finding a family doctor, OB, or other specialist. At many of these medical sites, you can review doctors’ credentials and histories, look at patient recommendations and find out important information about each doctor. Make sure to check on the credentials of the doctors on your list. Check on their training and board certification at the American Medical Association. At some online medical rating sites, you can actually see a video clip of physicians to get a feel for their personality type; at other sites, they’ll have a rating system from A to F to “grade” physicians. These sites are highly informative and should help you to narrow down the selection process.
- Other Doctors: While some doctors don’t want to offer up a recommendation for other doctors, many physicians will be willing to do so. If you are looking for a specialist, for instance, ask your general practitioner for recommendations. If it’s a general physician that you need, you might ask your OB or your eye doctor for recommendations. Particularly in smaller towns, doctors really do know each other, and you can offer get the best recommendations for physicians from others in the field. If you don’t want to directly ask a doctor to recommend another doctor, simply ask your doctor who he or she uses as a general practitioner. If the doctor is good enough for them, chances are that they could work for you as well!
Keep in mind when looking for a doctor that you are the client. You have the right to look for the right doctor for your needs. If a doctor makes you feel less than important, or if one makes you feel silly for looking so carefully for the right doctor, cross them off of your list. Your health care maters and you have the right to do the research that you need to do in order to feel comfortable with your care. Make sure to start this search while you are healthy, and not in need of major medical care. It is highly recommended that you search for a physician with a level head, and while you aren’t looking for immediate care. This will help you to make a more thoughtful, educated decision.