One great step in the journey to health and happiness is to find a good physician who connects with and understands you on a deep level. Looking for a doctor can be an intimidating process as you are really looking for someone who you can trust with your life in their hands. Fortunately, it can also be a rewarding time when you are equipped with the right questions and know what to be on the lookout for.
1. Do You Need a Specialist or Primary Care?
The first thing to identify is whether you are looking for a specialist or a primary care physician. A specialist, such as a neurologist or cardiologist, is specifically trained to help with one area.
Typically, you will want to find a general practice doctor first. This is the person who can administer primary care. They are the first professional you call when feeling sick. If you end up needing to see a specialist, your primary care physician (PCP) will be able to refer you to one who can help on a more detailed level.
Sometimes, people will choose other medical professionals to stand in as a PCP. These include:
- Geriatricians (who specialize in senior care)
- Pediatricians (who treat children)
- Nurse practitioners
- Physicians’ assistants
2. Know What You Like
For many people, a visit to the doctor is a nerve-racking undertaking. So it is important to find a physician with whom you feel comfortable. U.S. News points out that when searching for “Dr. Right,” most people don’t realize that their interaction with their doctor will be “one of the most important professional relationships you will ever have.” So this makes it all the more important to ensure that your personalities jive.
Before visiting the doctor, find out what is important to you. For instance, if you are active in your own wellness or prefer natural alternatives, then you will want to make sure that you find a doctor with whom you can openly discuss options and input your own opinions.
Also, because many people find their physician by asking family and friends for recommendations, it is a good idea to ask your connections why they like the particular doctor that they have suggested. This way, you can know ahead of time whether you will value the same qualities.
3. Is a Background Check Important?
Another common set of questions involves the physician’s schooling, residency and other training. It is not necessarily important or a guaranteed reflection if the doctor graduated from an Ivy League medical school. However, if the physician completed his or her education abroad, then it is important to ask why. Schooling from outside the U.S., comments Don Powell the president of the American Institute for Preventive Medicine, doesn’t mean that the doctor is less competent, but you will want to make sure that he or she didn’t “go out of the country as a roundabout way to get a medical degree.” And if the doctor is hesitant or refuses to answer your questions, that might be a real warning flag.
With these important questions in mind, finding the right doctor can be a rewarding process that will ultimately lead to the improvement of both your physical and emotional health.
Image from momitforward.com