Tips to Find Your Doctor
- Office location and relative convenience to your home or place of employment.
- Office hours. Are they convenient for you?
- Medical school and undergraduate degree.
- Board certification: a board-certified doctor has completed a residency program in a specialty or subspecialty and passed examinations to test his or her knowledge of that specialty. Board-eligible physicians have completed their residency but have not taken the examinations.
- Fellowship: this is a recognition received from peers, usually for research or other intellectual endeavors. A fellowship is often indicated on a doctor's business card, for example: "MD, FACS" for Medical Doctor, Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.
What kind of doctor is right for you?
You can choose your doctor from a variety of specialties, depending on your health plan. Some require your primary care physician to be an internist or family practitioner. All plans vary, so be sure to check. For instance, if you're a woman, you might be able to choose an obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN), who specializes in childbirth and diseases of the female organs. If you have children, they may need a pediatrician whose patients range from newborns to teenagers. Or you may prefer one doctor who can treat the whole family. A family practitioner, whose training involves a multi-year residency, will be responsible for your entire family's health needs and will refer you to specialists as necessary.
No matter who you choose, there are some things you can do to help ensure the relationship between you and your physician is a good one:
- Be Honest. Your doctor can't give you the proper care without accurate information. Your health is personal, so it's important to find someone you can be open and honest with.
- Ask Questions. Medical treatment can often be complicated, but you still have the right to know about your health situation and to have your questions answered until you fully understand what is involved. Asking questions also shows your doctor that you are interested and listening.