Choosing the Right Doctor
A great doctor can make all the difference in your quality of life, and can even have serious consequences for your health. If you’re between doctors or in the process of choosing the right doctor (maybe you moved to a new town, or your previous doctor retired) it can be tough. Here’s how to begin your search for a top-notch medical professional that you can trust.
Get recommendations for choosing the right doctor: Seek referrals from like-minded and trustworthy friends, family, co-workers or other professionals you already see (like a therapist or medical specialist). At the same time, consult your health insurance company for a list of providers that are in-network for your policy. This will ensure you’re getting the best care and the best coverage.
Do your research: Bedside manner is important, but it’s not everything. Make sure your doctor has the training and expertise you need before you set up an initial consultation. Look for board certification, professional affiliations, years of experience and any specialty or additional training, such as a focus on women’s health or cardiac care within a generalized setting. You may also choose to consult online physician review sites to get a sense of other patients’ experiences. While these sites can be helpful, take the information they provide with a grain of salt: the number of reviews is often small, and can be skewed towards those who have had a bad experience. Plus, if your doctor is well-trained and has the qualifications you’re looking for, how you connect with her or him is a highly subjective, personal matter.
Conduct interviews: Choosing the right doctor can be hard to do. Friends and family are a great place to start if you’re looking for a great doctor, but it’s up to you to find out whether that person is a good match. See if you can schedule a quick interview or initial consultation to meet with several potential doctors. Get a feel for the doctor’s communication style and whether you feel comfortable and listened to. Ask how they approach their relationship with patients, what they think you should expect from them and vice versa. You might also ask whether they have experience in any areas that are important to you.
Look at the big picture: If you start seeing a new doctor, he or she will not be the only factor influencing your care. Be sure to observe how well you’re treated on the phone, the friendliness of the support staff, and the atmosphere of the office itself. Finally, it’s a good idea to ask the administrative staff how long it usually takes to get an appointment, and what would be a typical waiting time for the doctor you’re considering.
Some final thoughts:
If you’ve gone through a thorough process choosing the right doctor, it’s likely you’ll end up with a doctor that’s a great fit for your personality and needs. But If after a few visits you’re just not connecting or are unhappy with your care, don’t be afraid to try the next person on your list or re-start the search all together. It’s worth doing whatever it takes to find a doctor you can rely on and who can really meet your needs long-term.