Finding a Good Family Doctor
Most of us know from experience that there is a significant difference between a bad doctor and a good doctor. If you or your children are sick, you want to find a doctor that will listen to you, is empathetic, and knows how best to help you. Many health problems go unnoticed by a bad doctor that could easily be corrected with an attentive and caring doctor. Having a good doctor is especially important when you are paying a significant amount of money for health care. Also, it's nice to have a family doctor rather than just a pediatrician; that way you can get care yourself without having to find another doctor to go to. The trick is—how do you find a good family doctor?
- Word of mouth. Word of mouth is often the best way to find out about anything. Ask your friends and family that live in your area about what doctors they go to. Obviously, some of it is a matter of opinion, but chances are that if someone you trust likes a doctor, you will like the doctor as well. Also, if you have another doctor that you like that is not a family doctor, ask him or her for suggestions on where to go for a good family doctor. Good doctors usually know other good doctors.
- Check it out. Once you have asked your friends and family members for the names of some doctors, call their offices and ask for more information: Do they take your insurance? How much is the co-pay? How far away is the office? What hours is the office open? How long does it usually take to get an appointment? Are there emergency or late-night hours? Write down a list of questions and keep notes of the answers. You won't remember everything that is said after calling a few offices.
- Schedule an appointment. Once you have selected a doctor from the list and the next time you need a doctor, schedule an appointment. After your visit, ask yourself these questions: Did he or she seem to care about my child and me? Was he or she interested in our lives? Did he or she listen and seem concerned when I explained the problem? Did I feel comfortable talking to him or her? Did he or she demonstrate skill and expertise when treating my child or me? Did he or she give enough time to make sure I understood and could ask questions?
Sometimes it's easy to find a family doctor that you like, but often it takes more time. Whatever you do, remember that if you aren't satisfied with your doctor that you can always find a new one. It's important that you are comfortable and feel that you are being treated well.
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