Your doctor can have a huge impact on your physical health, so choosing the best doctor for you is a very important decision. Together you and your doctor will be responsible for determining the course of your healthcare, your medical treatments, and the medications you take. The understanding and knowledge that your doctor has could very well save your life and will certainly affect the quality of your life. Try to remember that your doctor is your choice; you shouldn’t have to feel that your insurance company has the final word on who will be your doctor.
#1 Get a Referral from a Trusted Source
Whether you are hoping to find a doctor who will take the time to get to know you during your visits or you are more concerned with finding a doctor who specializes in one particular area of medicine, you can make a more informed decision with a referral than by scanning through the phone book. Ask your friend or family member how long they have been visiting this particular doctor. Find out why your friend started visiting this doctor and how well the doctor communicates with their patients. Make up a list of three to five doctors so that you can make a well-informed choice.
#2 Talk to the Doctor
When it comes to your health care, you need a partner who is willing to fully listen to you and understand your health concerns. This can only happen if the doctor takes the time during each visit to understand what you are experiencing. During your visit with the doctor ask how long visits usually take. Find out how long you will wait for appointments and whether or not the doctor will be willing to communicate with you by telephone or email in between visits.
#3 During Which Hours will the Doctor be Available?
It will be good to know if you will be able to talk to your doctor in the middle of the night if you are experiencing severe abdominal pain. You really don’t want to be hanging around in the ER if you could be seen by your doctor instead. Find out when normal appointments will be scheduled, how emergencies will be handled, and who will take the place of your doctor is he is unavailable when you need him.
#4 Determine How Well You Get Along with the Doctor
If you just don’t like your doctor, chances are you won’t visit him or her as soon as you should. Even if you have chosen a doctor who is the head of her field, if your personalities don’t mesh, then that expertise won’t do you much good. It will be hard for your doctor to be committed to your health if you won’t go in for the visits.
#5 Check the Doctor’s Credentials
Just as in any other field, there will be doctors who will provide you with excellent health care and some doctors who won’t offer you quality care at all. One important step toward choosing a doctor with a good reputation is to find out who is willing to provide endorsement. You can check out the credentials and history of a doctor by visiting the following websites:
- U.S. Office of Postsecondary Education Database of Accredited Programs
- National Practitioner Data Bank
By Lauren Hill