How to Choose a Doctor

By Thomas Cazneau

Choosing the right doctor can be risky business. When you entrust your life and well-being into someone else’s hands, it’s important that you have enough assurance that they have the expertise and ability to take care of you or the people you love. Below are some helpful tips on how to choose a doctor.

Choosing a Doctor
Physicians are generally categorized as primary care doctors and specialists.

Primary Care

      A primary care doctor supports your general health and wellness and is your first point of contact whenever you become sick. In most situations and circumstances, you should speak to your primary care doctor to determine the best course of medical action. A good primary care doctor will be able to see your health as a whole.

A specialist has a deeper but narrower skill set, and may serve only a short-term purpose, like diagnosing a problem or prescribing a treatment for a particular condition.

When exploring how to choose a doctor, primarily focus on the type of doctor you’re most likely to need, whether it’s a primary care physician or someone in a specialized field. If you don’t have pre-existing conditions, shopping for a primary care doctor only should be just fine, as they can refer you to a specialist should you ever need one.

Research Physician’s Experience
Choosing a doctor could involve researching their experience and qualifications for their current position and specialty. Most doctors have online profiles on where they trained and studied to obtain degrees, as well as how they can help you with your needs. If you try a doctor and find that you’re just not comfortable with them, then, switch doctors. A good resource for researching doctors is friends and family, also, check out patient reviews.

To find a list of doctors in your area, click Physician Directory. Of course, you’ll still need to call to see if they are accepting new patients.

Account for Online Presence
Is your doctor accessible online? If not, are you okay with that? The convenience of being able to reach your doctor by email is maximized by being able to receive medical advice without having to pay any copays for visiting him/her in person. However, if you yourself do not consider yourself to be an avid Internet user, then perhaps a lack of your doctor’s online presence would not matter.

Consider Gender
If you are more comfortable with a male or female doctor, keep the gender in mind when shopping for a doctor. Surveys show that, for the most part, women prefer care from female doctors, particularly if they need well-woman check-ups or tests. Some men prefer male doctors, but generally, most men are fine either way.

My Personal Experience
As a child, I had undergone a surgery that required regular visits to a neurologist at Kaiser Permanente. However, when my first neurologist retired, my case and records had to be transferred to a different neurologist within Kaiser Permanente’s network. Although this new specialist proved to have experience and charisma, I didn’t feel comfortable with his regular assertions that I would never see out of my left again. Even after I spoke with him, he would not honor my wishes and continued to state the current status of optic nerve regeneration treatment… that it hasn’t been made successful yet. Long story short, we decided to switch to a different Kaiser Permanente neurologist who honored our personal wishes and ultimately was a better fit.

Hopefully, you have had a great experience with finding a primary care and specialist doctors. If not, I encourage you to test the health care waters and consider switching doctors until you find the one that’s right for you.

Also check 8 health insurance tips step my step to the right coverage.


Comment from Nancy Reid
Time: May 30, 2013, 12:03 am

I always go to my state department of licensing to check out a new doctor’s credentials! I find it very helpful!

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