Find a Doctor Who Will Be a Partner
A primary care
physician such as a
family medicine doctor or an
internist who knows and understands your needs can be
your most valuable health partner. Specialists who work on separate health
problems may not see your whole health picture or get a good understanding of
what's important to you. When you choose a doctor, there are lots of questions
to ask, but these three matter the most:
- Is the doctor well trained and
- Will the doctor be available when
- Will the doctor work in partnership with me?
For more information about choosing a doctor, see the topic Choosing a Health Care Provider.
Training and experience
For most people, a good
choice for a primary care physician is a board-certified family medicine doctor
or an internist. For children and teens, a board-certified
pediatrician or family medicine doctor is a good
A doctor becomes board-certified by completing training in
a specialty area and passing an examination to demonstrate that he or she has
the skills and experience needed to practice that medical specialty. To
maintain their certification, doctors must take continuing medical education
courses and pass periodic examinations. Board-certified family doctors,
internists, and pediatricians have knowledge about many common medical
problems. For more information, see the topic Medical Specialists.
Because health problems rarely
develop when it's convenient, it helps to have a doctor who can see you when
needed. Ideally, you want the best doctor you can find who is conveniently located and who belongs to your health plan.
Other things you may want to consider include:
- If I called right
now for a routine visit, how soon could I be seen?
- How much time is
allowed for a routine visit?
- Will the doctor discuss health problems over the
phone or by email?
- What hospitals does the doctor
During your first visit, tell
your doctor that you would like to share in making treatment decisions. Pay
attention to how you feel during the visit.
- Does the doctor listen well?
the doctor speak to you in terms you can understand?
- Does the
doctor spend enough time with you?
- Do you think you could build a
good working relationship with the doctor?
If the answers are no, look for another doctor. It may
take more than one visit for you to decide whether you will be able to work
with a doctor.