Basic Tips For Choosing The Right Primary Care Doctor

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If you've just changed insurance companies or are unhappy with your current doctor, you may be on the hunt for a new primary care physician. But finding the right doctor can be a bit like finding the right pair of shoes. What someone else likes may not be the perfect fit for you. To help you find a doctor who meets your unique needa, follow these tips.

Evaluate the office first.

Your primary care doctor's office needs to be a space were you feel comfortable. It also needs to be conveniently located so you're not forced to drive an hour out of your way each time you have a cold! So before you even make an appointment, drive around to some local offices in your area and check them out. If a place gives you the willies before you even walk in, you can cross it off the list. Similarly, if the parking situation is a mess or you can't imagine yourself driving that far when you're ill, you can rule that option out, too.

Meet the doctor and ask some basic questions about care.

Once you have found two or three offices where you feel comfortable, it's time to get in touch with the actual doctors. You don't always need to make a formal checkup appointment to do this. Call the office, and say you're interested in using the doctor as your primary physician. Ask if you can schedule a time to meet him or her for a quick meet-and-greet. Not all doctors' offices will allow this, but those that do are often very friendly, welcoming places that you should put high on your list. If the office tells you this is not an option, then you may need to schedule a formal checkup. 

At your meet-and-greet or first checkup, focus on getting a sense of the doctor's overall personality and demeanor. Do they spend time getting to know you, or do they fly from task to task while paying you as little attention as possible? Ask them these questions:

  • How long does it typically take to schedule an appointment?
  • Are they willing to collaborate with alternative providers, such as chiropractors or acupuncturists?
  • Do they see patients at all stages of life, or will you need to move on to someone else once you're more advanced in age?

If you find their answers satisfactory and like their general demeanor, then perhaps you've found your new doctor. If not, move on to the next one. In most areas, there are hundreds of primary care physicians, so there's no need to stick with someone you don't like. Find more information.