How to Choose a Doctor

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When Carla Leininger’s family moved to a new state, they needed to find a new doctor. In the past, she had asked friends for recommendations, but this time she decided to go a bit further to find the right care provider for her family of six. “I scheduled a block of time to interview all the doctors in the practice one at a time. The office was more than happy to comply.”

During that interview process, she asked a variety of questions in the hopes of finding a doctor that she feels most comfortable with and confident in. For Carla, she has a specific type of doctor in mind. “I feel that the parent and the doctor are a team in your child’s well being,” she explained. “I like it when they include me in the decision making process about what will happen next and also why we will be going this route instead of this other route.”

The first step that Carla took in her search for a physician was to understand her own wants and needs in a doctor. She understood what sort of doctor/patient relationship she desired, and what sort of doctor’s philosophy and practice best works for her and her family.

How to Choose Doctor

The following is a list of questions to ask a potential care provider, whether a family doctor, pediatrician, OB/gyn or midwife. But, the first step to beginning your own search is to ask yourself these questions and determine what you feel the correct answers should be. By doing so, you have a greater chance of building a lasting and healthy relationship with your physician.

Where is your office located?
What are your office hours?
What sort of insurance do you accept?
How and when is payment expected?
What hospital are you affiliated with?
How far in advance must I make appointments?
What is the typical wait time in the office?
Do you have separate waiting rooms for sick and healthy patients?
Do you keep paper or electronic medical files?
Are you board certified?
Where did you attend medical school?
How do you stay up-to-date with medical developments?
What should I do if I need a sick appointment on a weekend?
If I call with a question, who will return my call and how long will it take?
Is it possible to contact you with questions via email?
Who covers for you when you are not available?
Do you take more of a wait-and-see or aggressive approach in treatment?
Do you refer patients to specialists or do you manage most of the care yourself?
Do you confer with your patient in making treatment decisions?

By asking a few questions up front, you’ll better understand how your doctor’s practice works and what her approach to medicine is, so that you can make an informed decision that best suits you and your family.

How did you choose your doctor (word-of-mouth, insurance, etc.)? Are you happy with your choice?

{This article first appeared in The Family Magazine of Michiana. Photo credit @iStock.com/morofoto.}

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One thought on “How to Choose a Doctor

  1. We got very lucky, we chose our pediatrician off a list from our insurance company right before our son was born. He’s been a fantastic fit for our family. The rest of our providers (internists, obgyn/midwife, dentists) were through word of mouth.

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