When it comes to finding the right doctor, it’s not an easy task–and it shouldn’t be. You want to feel confident that they have plenty of smarts, qualifications and skills to give you the care you want and need. “Shop for a doctor the same way you interview for a lawyer or accountant,” says Don Powell, president of the American Institute for Preventative Medicine. He continues by saying that this is the start of one of of the most important professional relationships you’ll ever have.
Smart questions and tips how to narrow your list are key. You’ll be pleased to see the difference the right doctor makes.
WHAT TO CONSIDER
First and foremost, what kind of doctor are you looking for? The main two doctors people look for are:
- General Practice – aids in keeping you healthy, a safe haven for medical needs and your biggest go-to when you’re sick. Like family practice physicians, they can treat patients of any gender or age. Distinguished by the initials, “D.O.” (doctor of osteopathic medicine) instead of “M.D.” (medical doctor)
- Family Practice – able to treat patients of all ages, treat a wide variety of conditions and generally treat injuries you’d see a specialist for like sports injuries, women’s health, etc.
- Internal Medicine – typically treats adults, specialize in prevention, diagnosis and management of disease and chronic conditions
- Specialist – Generally serves a short term purpose, has a narrow yet intrusive skill set like broken bones, diseases, etc.
It’s always suggested to locate your ideal primary care doctor first then, I’d need be, ask for their professional opinion on which specialist is right for you.
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CHECK YOUR INSURANCE
Searching for doctor’s in your network is an ideal start to finding the right one. Since offices add or drop plans frequently, call the doctor’s office to verify that the doctor still accepts your insurance.
A certification through the American Board of Medical Specialties means a doctor has accomplished the following:
- Earned a medical degree from a qualified medical school
- Finished 3-7 years of residency training from an accredited facility
- Received a license from the state medical board
- Is expected to participate in continuing education.
You can visit certificationmatters.org to see whether a doctor you’re interested in is certified.
ASK A FRIEND
People normally feel more confident about their selection in anything when referred by a friend or family member. Ask who they visit for whatever type of doctor you’re looking for and why they prefer that doctor over anyone. If you’re moving to a different area, ask your current doctor if they have any recommendations for that area.
IT’S ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS
Once a doctor has been decided on, ask yourself what professional experiences and personality traits do you look for in a doctor. There’s a certain chemistry needed between you and your long term physician; you should not only feel comfortable around them but also the fact that your life is in their hands.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE OFFICE
Office policies and procedures can make or break a professional relationship. If it takes two months to schedule an appointment or a three hour wait to see the doctor, many patients are discouraged to visit. Call the offices you are interested in and ask the following questions:
- How long does it take to make an appointment for a routine visit? Ideally, the answer is less than a week.
- Does the office offer same-day appointments?
- What are the office hours?
- Where are routine x-rays, blood work and laboratory studies performed? Which hospital(s) does the doctor use?
- Does the office process insurance claims or must you pay up-front services and file the claims yourself?
Learning about the policies or standards of the office now may save you time in the long run.
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DOES GENDER MATTER TO YOU?
Studies have found that female doctors may providing better basic preventive services to both men and women rather than their male peers. Women generally prefer care from female doctors while males are more open to either gender. If the doctor’s gender is important to you, this is definitely something to consider when making your list.
To take it a step further, schedule a introductory phone call or interview with any doctor you’re considering. Nothing else can solidify your decision on who’s the right doctor for you like a face-to-face conversation. At this point you can talk with him or her about any current medications you’re on, your medical history and what you look for in a physician.
While visiting the facility, get a feel for the office space. Is the office staff courteous and friendly? Does the waiting/patient rooms offer a welcoming environment or make you feel uncomfortable? These may seem like tedious questions, but in stressful situations, knowing the answers can put your mind at ease.
Ready to get started? Beaumont Emergency Center is not only here for your emergency medical needs, but also to aid you in finding which doctor is right for you. Our friendly staff always provides professional recommendations based on our philosophy of “continually exceeding (your) expectations in the delivery of care”