What Qualifications are You Looking For?
A primary care doctor is your most personal contact to the healthcare system. He or she is your partner in health as well as your advisor, your confidant, and the one professional you can turn to when you have a problem with your health. However, this role can be filled by a number of different types of specialists.
An internal medicine physician specializes in the care of all adults. They are often considered the detectives of medicine, because they are experts at identifying, diagnosing, and treating adult illnesses. However, they are also very qualified in helping you prevent illness and improve your health.
On the other hand, a family practice specialist is board certified to provide primary care for patients throughout their lifespan. This means that they treat infants, children, adolescents, adults, and seniors. You may be looking for a primary doctor that can care for your entire family, and stay with you throughout your life. If that is the case, you may want to research family practice providers.
Some doctors decide to get additional training to treat a specific population. A geriatrician is a specialist who is board certified in the treatment of patients 65 years of age and older. If you are looking for a primary care doctor that has a deeper understanding of the unique needs of an older adult, than you may be looking for a geriatrician.
Other primary care doctors include pediatricians and OB/GYN (obstetrics and gynecology) specialists. Regardless of your choice, you should make sure that your doctor is board certified in their area of expertise. This means that they have not only completed medical school, a residency, and sometimes a fellowship, but also that they have had the required testing that certifies that they are experts in their field.
What’s Important to You?
Once you have narrowed down your search to specialty, it’s time to take inventory of what is important to you. Depending on where you live and what kind of transportation is available, you may want a primary doctor whose office is close to your home or your work. How about office hours? Do you need to find someone who is available evenings or weekends, or that can see you in an emergency? And if you call after hours, will you talk to your doctor or an associate, a covering physician, a nurse practitioner, a physician’s assistant, or a nurse? This might be something that will add weight to your decision. You may also have a preference for hospital facilities, so find out where they have affiliations or privileges.
You should also take personal needs and beliefs into consideration. If you have a chronic illness such as diabetes or heart disease, you may be looking for a primary care doctor that specializes or has a focus in one of these illnesses. Everyone has different styles or approaches from a doctor that they are comfortable with. Do you need a doctor that lays everything out for you and spells out a plan, or would you prefer someone who gives you options and lets you choose? Personal style can be of great benefit, or can be a deterrent to achieving health, because if you are not comfortable the advice you are given, you probably won’t follow it.
Now that you have developed an inventory of what you are looking for in a doctor, it’s time to get some recommendations. Ask your friends who they see, and why they have chosen their doctor. Ask them to list their pros and cons, in their opinion, because remember that you might think differently. You can ask people other than your friends too. Ask your coworkers, your kid’s teachers, and even other doctors like your specialists or your kid’s pediatrician. Once you’ve compiled a list, you should check with your insurance company directly because online and published lists are not always accurate. You don’t want to spend time inquiring about doctors that are not on your plan, and you certainly don’t want to find out they don’t take your insurance after you’ve made an appointment. Finally, there are a number of websites that offer reviews of doctors. Don’t just look at the numbers, but read the written reviews, because again, what is important to someone else may not be important to you.
Make Your Decision In Person
When you are pretty sure of your choice, make an appointment. It is important that the impression you have formed is an accurate one. This is your opportunity to ask questions, discuss your health concerns, and see how well you communicate. In all likelihood, if you’ve done your homework, you will have a match, but take this opportunity to get to know your doctor. When making the very important choice of choosing your primary care doctor, you should feel comfortable in knowing that this is someone you can have a long and trusting relationship with, because your health depends on it.
We would be happy to answer any questions you may have about our practice and the primary care services we provide. At Advanced Medical, PA, we pride ourselves in providing personal and individualized, quality health care. To learn more about us and the services we offer, or to schedule a visit, call us at (561) 434-1935 to request an appointment, or request one online.