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Top 10 Considerations in Choosing a Primary Care Doctor

Finding the right doctor isn’t always easy. More and more healthcare consumers are shopping around before choosing a physician, using resources that include recommendations from family and friends, quality rankings and the Internet.

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Start your search by checking for the hallmarks of medical competency: graduation from an accredited and respected medical school, completion of a residency program at a respected hospital, board certification or board eligibility in a specialty and affiliation with a respected health system. Many doctors who are accepting new patients are willing to set up a get-to-know-you phone appointment to help you make this important decision.

Don’t stop your evaluation when you’ve found a doctor you like. Ask yourself a few more questions.

1. Communication. Does your doctor talk in terms you can understand? Is your doctor willing to answer all your questions, even if they require detailed explanations?

2. Time and Attention. Does your doctor spend enough time with you? Does your doctor give you his or her full attention?

3. Your Comfort Level. Do you feel comfortable calling the office with questions about medication side effects, changes in your condition or to ask questions you’ve thought of after you left? Do you feel comfortable with your doctor’s personality?

4. Convenience. Is his or her office conveniently located with easy access to parking?

5. Hospital Affiliation. Is the hospital where the doctor admits patients close by? Does it meet your standards?

6. Caring and Concern. Does your doctor show genuine concern for your welfare and sympathy for your condition?

7. Office Management. Is the office orderly and well managed? Is the staff friendly?

8. Backup Care. Who handles call for your doctor nights and weekends?

9. Lifestyle Counseling. Does your doctor stress the importance of diet, sleep, relaxation and exercise? Is your doctor interested in your overall health habits or preoccupied with your current ailment.

10. Physician-Patient Partnership. Does your doctor take your thoughts and opinions into consideration?