When you’re looking for a family doctor, it can be difficult to know what to look for and what’s most important. You know you need someone that accepts your insurance, but beyond that, should you consider location or office hours? Gender or age? Here are four things you should definitely look for when you’re trying to find a family practitioner.
A Good Comfort Level
Regardless of the doctor’s gender or age, you should feel comfortable opening up about your health concerns. Whether you’re discussing concerns over flu symptoms, cardiovascular troubles, or troubles in the bedroom, you should be as comfortable opening up to your doctor as you would your spouse. Without all the information, your doctor can’t determine what condition you might have or how to treat you. If you aren’t comfortable with a doctor, this will inhibit your treatment and that’s the last thing you want.
Check out the Office Staff
Receptionists are often the gatekeeper to the office. Billing, records, and nurses all play a role in your care. If any of the office staff is unfriendly or even downright rude, disorganized or unhelpful, this reflects the culture of the office. Everyone’s entitled to a bad day, of course, so talking to the doctor to determine if there’s another cause (perhaps there are new staff members still in training, or leadership is transitioning and that’s creating some disorganization) is a good idea. But if he doesn’t seem any more helpful, or if you notice the same behaviors and lack of organization across multiple visits, take it as a sign.
No Rush to Treat
There are obvious emergency situations where immediate treatment is critical: a severe allergic reaction, a heart attack, or a stroke are a few examples. But if you’re feeling like the doctor is rushing you through the appointment, offering treatment options before you even finish describing your symptoms, reconsider. In fact, you may even consider talking to a medical malpractice lawyer about the visit if you’ve been seeing a doctor that behaves this way. In particular, the offer to prescribe drugs as treatment when the doctor doesn’t even have a full understanding of your symptoms to diagnose you could be medical malpractice.
After the doctor has examined you, listened to your symptoms, and asked other questions, do they explain your treatment options? A quality doctor will do more than just tell you how they’ll treat you. They’ll explain why they’re opting for a particular option over others, or even offer you a choice. They’ll make sure you understand the reasons for choosing that option, how it will work, what you’ll need to do, when to expect results, and what to do if you don’t get results. If they don’t do this, and still don’t after you ask them to, that could be a red flag.
Finding a family doctor is a very personal decision. Asking for recommendations, looking through insurance directories, and reading online reviews can all help. But ultimately, you should be looking for these basic things to know you’ve made the right choice.
Author Info: Rachelle Wilber is a freelance writer living in the San Diego, California area. She graduated from San Diego State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. She tries to find an interest in all topics and themes, which prompts her writing. When she isn’t on her porch writing in the sun, you can find her shopping, at the beach, or at the gym. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook: @RachelleWilber.