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8 Questions to Ask When Searching for a Family Doctor

By Carolyn Heneghan September 22, 2015 Posted in: Family Health , Article

Finding the right family doctor is an important part of maintaining a happy, healthy household. You want to find someone who not only provides thorough and effective care, but also someone who knows and cares about you on a personal level.

Finding a doctor like this doesn't have to be stressful. You can ask friends and family for a recommendation or search on your own. Either way, ask yourself these simple questions when you're searching for a family doctor:

  1. Does this doctor connect with me on a personal level? When it comes to your health, you want your doctor to care about you as a person and understand your desires, fears, beliefs, and preferences rather than just your symptoms and history. You want to be greeted with a smile, comforted, and provided with a soothing environment.
  2. Does this doctor care about what I care about? When you visit your doctor, she will offer diagnosis and treatment options, but you want to make sure that she is aware of the specific issues that matter most to you. For example, if you're having heart troubles, you want your cardiac health to improve, but you may also want to know if you can continue to participate in all the sports and physical activities you like.
  3. Does this doctor communicate clearly with me? Medical jargon can be confusing, and often you just want your health information in clear terms that you can understand and act upon. Ensure that your doctor is good at communicating all that you need to know about what will happen to you. You also want your doctor to be easy to contact by phone or email if you have questions, but can't come in for an appointment.
  4. Does the doctor involve me in my own care? Some doctors may want to take complete control of your care; others want it to be more of a partnership and will make important connections with you. You want to work as a team with your doctor and feel empowered to take some ownership of your own health and treatment. After all, it's yours.
  5. Is this doctor certified as a family doctor? If you're looking for a doctor who can care for your entire family, you'll want to find one who is certified in family medicine. A doctor with this specialty is devoted to comprehensive care for people of all ages. This differs from, say, a doctor of internal medicine, who specializes only in care for adults. There are great doctors in both specialties, but knowing what your unique needs are may matter in terms of who you ultimately select.
  6. Is this doctor covered by my insurance plan? Staying in-network for an office visit can mean the difference between tens and hundreds of dollars, and that doesn't include other potential expenses like tests and medications. If you're unhappy with the selection of doctors in your health plan, be sure that you're able to accept the higher fees that will come along with an out-of-network doctor.
  7. How long does it take to get an appointment? When you need to see your doctor right away, it's important to know the average wait time for last-minute appointments. If you find that a doctor is often overbooked, consider looking elsewhere.
  8. Is the office staff easy to work with? You are selecting not only the doctor herself but also her office staff. People often forget to consider that a friendly, accommodating office staff will make your experience at the doctor's office much smoother and more enjoyable.

With these considerations in mind, you should be able to find a family doctor who operates in the way that you prefer and who will provide the exact kind of care you want for your family.

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