Researching and choosing a new doctor can be everything from intimidating to completely overwhelming. Your health is important, so finding an affordable and trustworthy medical professional matters a lot.
With the right approach, you can skip the stress and quickly find a doctor you trust to support you on your personal health journey. Here are three tips that make choosing a new doctor as easy and painless as possible.
1. Make A List
Having a list of potential doctors is a step in the right direction, but there’s another list you should create first – a list of what you’re looking for in a doctor/patient relationship. This list will significantly narrow your search and make it easy for you to decide which doctors may be right for you.
On this list, include your reasons for contacting a doctor. Do you have a chronic or immediate medical condition? Are you interested in preventive care? Your list should also have information about what networks your health insurance will cover and how much you can afford to pay for visits out of pocket.
Finally, consider logistics like availability and location. How often will you need to see your doctor? Do you want to go to a group with multiple doctors and connections to specialty services, or would you prefer an individual practice? Many of these decisions are personal and will depend on your reason for seeking medical care.
2. Gather Recommendations
Now that you’ve completed research on yourself, it’s time to research available doctors in your area. A good way to start is by asking family and friends for recommendations. Excellent doctors are skilled in medicine and communication, and recommendations are a good way to find doctors with strong interpersonal skills.
In addition to asking for recommendations, do your own research on your local area. Ensure you know what kind of doctor you need to see, whether that be a primary care physician or a specialist. Most insurance policies won’t cover the cost of seeing a specialist unless you have a referral from a primary care physician.
Types of primary care physicians include family practitioners, pediatricians (children), geriatricians (elderly), and OB-GYN providers (women). Physician assistants and nurse practitioners are another option for primary care – they often have years of experience and more time to focus on individual patients than graduated doctors.
3. Scope It Out
The next step after choosing a type of doctor and gathering recommendations is to schedule your first appointment with the doctor who looks best to you. During this initial visit, you can ask your doctor questions and get a sense of how comfortable you are working with them. You can also pay attention to how organized the office is and whether the staff treats you well.
Every doctor has a personal philosophy of health, or the way they approach medicine and patient care. Ideally, you should partner with a doctor who has similar health and care goals as you. For instance, you and your doctor should agree on how many visits a year are necessary and what preventive screenings you need to get.
The most important thing you can look for is a doctor who will listen to you and treat you with respect. Although doctors have studied medicine for years, they are not authority figures you have to obey. Instead, your doctor is meant to be a partner who works alongside you to help maintain your long-term health.
Build Your Team
You are the primary advocate for your personal health – after all, you know your habits and how you feel best. However, connecting with a team of medical professionals gives you a whole new level of support in your health journey.
While finding a new doctor isn’t always easy, it’s one of the best ways you can invest in your future health. Follow these three steps to find your next doctor and establish a relationship that will benefit you for life.