Finding a Good Doctor

by Rebekah Scott
(last updated June 1, 2010)

The best way to find a good doctor is to ask people you know for . If you are looking for a pediatrician, your friend with young children is a good resource. Likewise, your coworker who you've shared acne horror stories with can give you some leads on finding a dermatologist. Nothing beats firsthand knowledge from people you trust. If questions to your friends are coming up dry, or you've just relocated to a new area and you haven't made any contacts yet, then going online is your next best bet. In this day and age there are rating sites from everything from movies to college professors. There are now sites that rate doctors where former or current patients can leave comments about their experiences. On many of these sites you can either search based on your location, or the name of a doctor. You can find review sites by entering 'doctor reviews' into any generic search engine. Entering your city may yield even better results. Once you find a site, read through all of the reviews, not just those that are listed at the top. This will give you a good idea of the general consensus on a certain doctor. If a lot of reviewers had bad experiences and their claims seem warranted, that's a good sign to consider another option. Be aware that many doctors pay to advertise on websites that look like review sites. This doesn't mean that there is anything shady about these doctors, but they certainly aren't going to share any negative information about themselves in a paid advertisement. If you see a doctor that seems like a good fit, it's still a good idea to try and find more information about him or her elsewhere. If you are looking for a specialist, certain professional organizations or non-profit groups may be able to give you a list of doctors near you that specialize in a given area. You may also find recommendation on message boards for people with certain illnesses, or from support groups for specific diseases such as breast cancer, multiple sclerosis, or diabetes. As a last resort, going through the phone book will at least give you a list of all the doctors in your area. Or, keep an eye out for doctors' offices as you are running errands around town. Choosing a doctor near the places that you regularly go would be convenient, but location should not be at the expense of having a physician that you don't like or trust. After you've compiled a list of doctors, don't be afraid to call their offices and ask questions about their practice. See if they are taking patients, and ask if you can come in for an introductory appointment. This will give you a chance to meet with a doctor face to face and get a good sense of his or her personality and practice style. You will be best prepared if you come in with a list of questions so do some research ahead of time and come up with a list that you can stick to during the appointment. You may want to ask how hard it is to see the doctor, how much care is given by other staff members such as nurses or medical assistants, what their attitude is to certain preventative measures, and what they think constitutes a good relationship between doctor and patient. While conducting your search for a good doctor, be persistent, make yourself aware, and don't be afraid to ask questions. A good doctor should feel like your ally, not your adversary. If you select a doctor and things aren't working out in a satisfactory way, begin your search again. Finding the best care possible is worth it!

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