How To Choose The Right Doctor For You

As we get older, we have to start making our own decisions--from the types of job we want to have to the number of children we want to have to who we want to marry. But among these decisions, it is really important to know about our physical well being and one of the more important things we can do is try to pick a physician. For me, picking a doctor was so challenging and definitely something I didn’t want to do. It wasn’t fun and the only reason I was even willing to find a new doctor was because my pediatrician retired. While searching, there's a few things I kept in mind in order to find the perfect new doctor for me: If you don’t have to find a new one, don’t.

Many people don’t know it, but turning 18 doesn’t mean having to find a new doctor--you can actually wait until you're 21. This can make a lot of people extremely happy, especially if you have had a doctor for a number of years, they know your history and you have developed a healthy relationship with them. I know it feels good to limit the number of people who know that you like to eat Hot Cheetos for breakfast and you drink more Coke than you know you should! Having just one doctor also limits the number of times you need to run through insurance information as well as old medical histories since one doctor will have this on file. All of this being said, if you are chronically ill, it is a good idea to start looking for an adult doctor once you turn 18 so you can get comfortable. But if you’re otherwise healthy, it’s completely normal and completely okay to delay the process of finding a new doctor, and looking into finding one until you turn about 20 or even until just a few months before your 21st birthday.

Ask friends or relatives.

Many people have the same doctor as their friends or family members because it makes them feel more comfortable! If you are not sure how to find a doctor, ask some close friends in your area who see a physician in the area if they like their doctor. Often times, people will say yes and you can find out where they see their doctor. If a friend of yours has a similar personality, and similar wants and needs from their doctor, it is pretty likely that you will also enjoy seeing this physician. It makes sense to sit down with a friend and ask a few questions about how they like their doctor, and whether or not the physician is taking new patients. If you think it might be promising, don’t be afraid to give them a call and see if you can schedule an appointment.

Ask your current physician for a reference.

If you have been followed for a while by a physician, either because they are your primary care physician and they always have been or because of a chronic illness, this physician probably knows your medical and social history well enough to help you find a new doctor. Many times, there are other physicians in their practice or in the area they may know who will be able to meet your needs. All you have to do is ask if they can assist you with finding someone--many physicians will be helpful and willing to refer you to someone who will be able to meet your needs!

Look at profiles on websites.

These days, everything is on the Internet! If you are looking for a new doctor in your area, just google “physicians in (insert your city here)” and you will have a whole list of physicians. If they work within a practice, you will more than likely have the opportunity to look at their profiles online. You can read through their philosophies, where they attended medical school, patients they like to treat, things they like to do, and all sorts of things. If their biography is upfront and doesn’t line up with what you need, you can completely avoid seeing a physician you may not like. You can also use this as a resource to stumble upon someone who will be an excellent physician for you and help you lead a healthier lifestyle!

Ask if you can meet them ahead of time.

Most people who go into medicine don’t do it for money, but instead do it because they genuinely care about people and want to help others. That being said, many doctors know that people have concerns and anxiety before going to see a new physician, and they want to be able to dispel some of that. If you are at all unsure about whether or not you want to see a doctor, but possibly want to see if it would be okay, you can always call their office and see if it would be possible to meet with them ahead of time and get a feel for them.

Feel free to pick a new one.

No matter how much we prepare for events and new beginnings, we will inevitably mess up once or twice. If you choose a doctor and and are not happy with this choice, don’t feel bad about not liking your new physician. Feel free to look for another that can make you happy. Start the process over again. Talk to friends or relatives, go back to your old doctor and see if they could refer you to someone new, or try googling again. Your health is so important--you don’t want to risk not being happy with your doctor.